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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:36 pm 
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This is a historical or geneological question: at what point was point #7 of the Eightfold Path first translated as "mindfulness" and not some other term (I mean first documented instance)? At what point did "mindfulness" become the most common English word to use in such translations? It seems to me that other words had been used as recently as the mid-20th century, but by the early 1970s, mindfulness was the industry standard.

Any guidance from those who are knowledgeable in the history of such translations will be warmly welcomed. Thank you!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:38 pm 
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Jikan wrote:
This is a historical or geneological question: at what point was point #7 of the Eightfold Path first translated as "mindfulness" and not some other term (I mean first documented instance)? At what point did "mindfulness" become the most common English word to use in such translations? It seems to me that other words had been used as recently as the mid-20th century, but by the early 1970s, mindfulness was the industry standard.

Any guidance from those who are knowledgeable in the history of such translations will be warmly welcomed. Thank you!



mindful (adj.) Look up mindful at Dictionary.com
mid-14c., from mind (n.) + -ful. Related: Mindfully; mindfulness. Old English myndful meant "of good memory." Old English also had myndig (adj.) "mindful, recollecting; thoughtful," which if it had lived might have yielded a modern *mindy.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:12 pm 
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Yes, I have the OED definition of the word "mindfulness." It's not hard to see how it's defined conventionally in English usage.

I'm looking for clues on how it became used in translations of Buddhist texts--who used it first and such considerations.

Thanks

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:26 pm 
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According to Robert Sharf, in the 20th century, especially around the 1970's.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:53 pm 
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According to Wikipedia, sati as mindfulness originates with Thomas Rhys Davids in 1881. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness#Terminology


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:03 pm 
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From "The Wheel of the Law" by Henry Alabaster, 1871:
http://books.google.com/books?id=UcIOAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA197&dq=mindful

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:03 pm 
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The book The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh was originally published in 1975 according to Wikipedia. Another popular title from around the same time was Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana. I think they were both very influential texts in the establishment of 'mindfulness' as an approach to Buddhist meditation especially for lay practitioners.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2014 11:33 pm 
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Jon Kabat-Zin who pathologised TNH's Mindfulness approach first did so in his 1990 magnum opus ' Full Catastrophe Living'.
Kabat- Zin's MBSR - Mindfulness Based Stress Relief and later MBCT Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy have, to some extent permeated to affect some 'Buddish' praxes.'
Very popular sideline of some Triratna's ( for example) is ' Mindfulness Coaching'.
Hence 'Mindfulness' has come to be a rather slippery concept, somewhat dependant on who is using it and for what purpose.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:48 am 
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As has been pointed out by two posters already, use of "mindfulness" as a translation of "sati" goes back to the earliest translations of the Pali Canon, back in the mid to late 1800s. This is easily verified from the links given above and and a quick scan through translations published over the past 130 years.

The escalation of "mindfulness" to the main focus of a practice is a different, much more modern, issue.

:anjali:
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:08 am 
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I prefer to think of it as awareness to be honest. Some Tibetans use the word memory instead don't they? All three seem to work well, but I find it interesting that I haven't seen awareness used much. Maybe because mindful makes people think of remembering more? Interesting anyway. I also like the fact that if you change one letter of aware you have awake, seems to fit well.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:37 am 
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rob h wrote:
I also like the fact that if you change one letter of aware you have awake, seems to fit well.


If you change one letter in aware you get award, which obvously does not seem to fit very well.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:44 pm 
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I had heard it was Rhys-Davids, but looks like Dzogchungpa has found an earlier source in Alabaster.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:17 pm 
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Rupert Gethin discusses this issue in this paper, "On Some Definitions of Mindfulness".

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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:34 pm 
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Thanks for the helpful comments, everyone! I'm particularly intrigued by the Alabaster reference. I look forward to exploring these early translations.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:16 pm 
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Gwenn Dana wrote:
If you change one letter in aware you get award, which obvously does not seem to fit very well.


Well spotted, and agreed. :sage:

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:43 pm 
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"For the Buddhist tradition and for MBSR and MBCT, ‘mindfulness’ is part of a set of practices, and practices can have particular effects whatever our preconceived ideas and theories about them. That is, in its application in a clinical context, further aspects of mindfulness may well manifest and be relevant."

Paper cited above.. 'Conclusion'.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 7:35 pm 
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Quote:
I prefer to think of it as awareness to be honest. Some Tibetans use the word memory instead don't they? All three seem to work well, but I find it interesting that I haven't seen awareness used much. Maybe because mindful makes people think of remembering more? Interesting anyway. I also like the fact that if you change one letter of aware you have awake, seems to fit well.

Sati/smṛti means remember, rather than being aware.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:51 pm 
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Zhen Li wrote:
Quote:
I prefer to think of it as awareness to be honest. Some Tibetans use the word memory instead don't they? All three seem to work well, but I find it interesting that I haven't seen awareness used much. Maybe because mindful makes people think of remembering more? Interesting anyway. I also like the fact that if you change one letter of aware you have awake, seems to fit well.

Sati/smṛti means remember, rather than being aware.


'aware' would probably be sampajañña, though in some contexts sati conveys this as well.

I think both are part of basic satipatthana instructions.

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    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 1:05 am 
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daverupa wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:
Quote:
I prefer to think of it as awareness to be honest. Some Tibetans use the word memory instead don't they? All three seem to work well, but I find it interesting that I haven't seen awareness used much. Maybe because mindful makes people think of remembering more? Interesting anyway. I also like the fact that if you change one letter of aware you have awake, seems to fit well.
Sati/smṛti means remember, rather than being aware.
'aware' would probably be sampajañña, though in some contexts sati conveys this as well.

I think both are part of basic satipatthana instructions.

Possibly of interest:
https://sbinstitute.com/isp/content/correspondence-between-b-alan-wallace-and-venerable-bhikkhu-bodhi

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:34 pm 
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daverupa wrote:
Zhen Li wrote:
Quote:
I prefer to think of it as awareness to be honest. Some Tibetans use the word memory instead don't they? All three seem to work well, but I find it interesting that I haven't seen awareness used much. Maybe because mindful makes people think of remembering more? Interesting anyway. I also like the fact that if you change one letter of aware you have awake, seems to fit well.

Sati/smṛti means remember, rather than being aware.


'aware' would probably be sampajañña, though in some contexts sati conveys this as well.

I think both are part of basic satipatthana instructions.


One of my favorite videos on "mindfulness" :)


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