Author Topic: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan  (Read 4946 times)

playground

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'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« on: December 12, 2016, 03:46:20 PM »
I've stumbled upon a pdf source of this 252 page book
with the rather interesting title 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism'

In the interests of love and wisdom....

Here's the link:
http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/documents/Mindfulness-in-Early-Buddhism_Kuan.pdf

--------------------------
Addendum:
Check out the library :
http://www.ahandfulofleaves.org/Library.html


« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 03:48:47 PM by playground »

Nicky

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2016, 06:12:46 PM »
233 pages. Is there something within that you found compelling & wish to share for discussion?

Thanks  :)

playground

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2016, 06:27:44 PM »
233 pages. Is there something within that you found compelling & wish to share for discussion?

Thanks  :)

Are you trolling this thread Nicky ?

No, i was correct. 252 'actual' pages. 
(Numbered pages go up to 233 however)

I'm interested in the origin of mindfulness.
Burning questions like:  Was 'mindfulness' there from the
beginning or has it evolved into existence, either in the
distant past, or relatively recently (eg 20th Century) 
I gather there are academic debates raging on these very questions.

I haven't read this book...  i just found it, thought, wow, this looks
interesting... and then brought it to the attention of this community.

« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 06:44:46 PM by playground »

Laurent

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2016, 09:54:49 PM »
Are there really debates on this question?
Unless the ancient suttas have been altered, mindfulness has been taught since the beginning.
You can easily check it by reading just the start of the satipatthana sutta (just an exemple).


dharma bum

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2016, 10:23:50 PM »
It's somebody's PhD thesis.

I started on it and find it very interesting. I have also been curious about the word mindfulness and its origins and have, to be honest, wondered if any nuance has been lost in translation. I'm not sure I understand it very well.
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Nicky

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2016, 10:24:31 PM »
I'm interested in the origin of mindfulness.

'Mindfulness' means 'to remember', such as when a mother tells a child to remember to tie their shoelaces & brush their teeth after a meal.

In Buddhism, 'mindfulness' is applied to certain things, such as to remember to practise the factors of the noble eightfold path.

I haven't read this book...  i just found it, thought, wow, this looks interesting... and then brought it to the attention of this community.

Its a long book that appears full of inaccuracies. ::)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 11:27:55 PM by Nicky »

Laurent

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2016, 10:37:18 PM »
It's somebody's PhD thesis.

I started on it and find it very interesting. I have also been curious about the word mindfulness and its origins and have, to be honest, wondered if any nuance has been lost in translation. I'm not sure I understand it very well.

"Mindfulness" is the latest buzzword which refers to the pali term "sati"

Nicky

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2016, 11:22:11 PM »
...wondered if any nuance has been lost in translation. I'm not sure I understand it very well.

Yes. Nuance has been lost in translation.

'Mindfulness' means 'to remember', 'bring to mind' or 'keep in mind'. This is all it means & nothing else.

On a most crude or basic level, when the translation states: "What is right mindfulness? It is the contemplation/observation of the body/breathing; feelings; mental states; Dhamma, etc", what this actually means is the meditator 'remembers to remain observant'. In other words, mindfulness is not the act of observing itself but, instead, remembering to be observant. For example, when the mind drifts away from the meditation object, this is forgetfulness or a loss of mindfulness.

On a more refined level, per the definition, right mindfulness also remembers to 'abandon covetousness & distress in relation to the world', which is remembering to apply the wisdom of the four noble truths, which states abandoning craving is the path to Nibbana. For example, if the mind becomes greedy or attached towards a meditation experience, this is a loss of mindfulness.

On a general level, mindfulness also remembers to apply the appropriate wisdom in various situations when required. This situational wisdom, per the definition, is called 'sampajanna' (clear-comprehension). For example, a hindrance arises in meditation. Mindfulness remembers and applies the wisdom of the Buddha to the hindrance, such as: "This hindrance is harmful" or "This hindrance is impermanent and will pass away soon, therefore just relax" or "this hindrance is not me; it is not-self; it is just a natural mood/drive".

Therefore, in Buddhism, right mindfulness always means to 'remember' or 'bring to mind' any knowledge, wisdom &/or technique required to practise the Buddhist path to develop tranquility & insight and end suffering.

As for the observing of meditation, this is done by consciousness (rather than done by mindfulness). 

This video is good:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpCy9Tb73gw&t=1s

 :)
« Last Edit: December 12, 2016, 11:31:59 PM by Nicky »

stillpointdancer

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2016, 12:25:49 PM »
'Mindfulness' was a word already in use when the Pali and Sanskrit words sati and smrti needed translating back in Victorian times. I think it was by T W Rhys Davids in 1881. His translation was a pretty good word for some aspects of Buddhist mindfulness, but couldn't possibly carry with it the background knowledge of the role of mindfulness in Buddhism, that of remembering things. It was used as a reminder to follow techniques developed by the Buddha himself.

So what to 'remember' using mindfulness? Sila is how we are to live in the world if we want to follow the path, and we are mindful of using right words, deeds and actions in our everyday lives. As beginners, the practice gradually works on us until we change as people, hopefully for the better. As we practice generosity, say, we become more generous.

Samadhi brings skills to complement and reinforce sila by developing meditation practice which helps our own minds work on themselves. First by giving the mind something to concentrate on, breathing, and then using this concentration to develop skills such as visualization. Eventually thoughts themselves become a focus of mindfulness meditation, allowing them to be looked at it the right way, and, with similar work on feelings and emotions, comes work towards samatha or serenity.

Some say that mindfulness naturally develops into insight meditation at this point, although later Buddhist practices often looked to something like vipassana or insight meditation to move on.

This is just scratching the surface of 'mindfulness' in Buddhism, which could take a lifetime to unpick. I rather like the structure developed later in the Satipatthana Sutta, although its not an easy read without a good commentary.



“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

dharma bum

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2016, 03:32:49 AM »
Thanks Nicky for the video. I will ponder over it. :)
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Nicky

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2016, 04:46:17 AM »
Eventually thoughts themselves become a focus of mindfulness meditation, allowing them to be looked at it the right way, and, with similar work on feelings and emotions, comes work towards samatha or serenity.

Some say that mindfulness naturally develops into insight meditation at this point, although later Buddhist practices often looked to something like vipassana or insight meditation to move on.

This is just scratching the surface of 'mindfulness' in Buddhism, which could take a lifetime to unpick.

The fruits of mindfulness are not mindfulness. Mindfulness simply places the mind in a position "to see". The "seeing" is not mindfulness.

I once spent some time in the monastery of a very famous guru. I was invited to a discussion with the guru's Western translator & his people. This translator had worked intimately for 20 years with the guru. The discussion was about mindfulness & these people were talking for an hour about how mindfulness was awareness or seeing of objects. When I was finally asked for my opinion, I explained why mindfulness was 'remembering to apply dhamma principles' rather than awareness of objects. The translator replied to me: "That is how the Guru explains it". For 20 years, the translator did not understand & he probably still does not understand; does not even understand his own Guru. It can take a lifetime for many & this only is an indicator of their method practise. That have not reached the level of practise when they realise 'seeing' or 'awareness' happens automatically and all mindfulness does is keep the mind in a quiet state where the seeing can occur.

 :)


playground

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2016, 12:27:21 PM »
Are there really debates on this question?
Unless the ancient suttas have been altered, mindfulness has been taught since the beginning.
You can easily check it by reading just the start of the satipatthana sutta (just an exemple).

Yes Laurent... there really are.

(1) simply try reading the posts after yours.

(2) There are academic papers suggesting that Mindfulness
is a peculiar invention of 20th century Burmese Mountain Buddhism.
(You'll have to do your own googling)
There's also the book by Eric Braun - 'The Birth of Insight'
(which has the by line: 'Meditation, Modern Buddhism,
and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw')

(3) I've not read the next book, but i'm told it contains a survey
of different views on the origins of mindfulness.
'A  History of  Mindfulness' by Bhikkhu Sujato (2012)
Here's a link:
http://santifm.org/santipada/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/A_History_of_Mindfulness_Bhikkhu_Sujato.pdf

:-)


dharma bum

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2016, 07:19:41 PM »
My own theory about this is based on the nature of human cognition/attention. You can pay attention to mostly one thing at a time. Even when we multi-task our brain, it is really one thing switched out and another switched in. So when you are paying attention to what your mind is thinking, then the mind has no time to think. So keeping a monitor in your brain starves all other thoughts of attention.

For all practical purposes, I have interpreted mindfulness as paying attention to what goes on in my mind.
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Nicky

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Re: 'Mindfulness in Early Buddhism' - Tse-fu Kuan
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2016, 08:43:06 PM »
(2) There are academic papers...

The quick, simple & effective method is to read my posts, or even quicker, read the sutta extract below:

Quote
One is mindful to abandon wrong view & to enter & remain in right view: This is one's right mindfulness. MN 117

If one reads those lengthy scholarly books, one might die before attaining any enlightenment and, in the process, have a 'rebirth' in hell.

 ???

 

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