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  • hardie karges 12:37 pm on November 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , sati, , , , monkey-mind, Neanderthal   

    Buddhist Mindfulness and the Myth of Multi-Tasking… 

    Multi-tasking is a myth, aka ‘monkey mind’. Mindfulness is not a myth. Think one thought at the time. ‘Mindfulness’ is a difficult word to translate, and may or may not be the best translation of the Pali/Sanskrit word ‘sati,’ but that is the historical path of Buddhism, so that is the word with which we are left, and that is the task before us.

    I think that the Christians have even borrowed the term now, and so it has taken on a life of its own. But what does it really mean? The term ‘sati’ originally meant something like simple ‘awareness’ or ‘consciousness,’ small ‘c’, almost certainly, (as it still means in modern standard Thai).

    But even more certain would be to simply posit it as the inverse of its negation, and so ‘mindfulness’ is simply the opposite of ‘mindlessness’ and put the onus of exposition upon its protagonists, since the word ‘sati’ worked just fine for millennia, and its simple translations are more than sufficient.

    But the quest for religion is the quest for transcendence, if not magic, and if that means creating holy words with extraordinary definitions, then ‘mindfulness’ is one of those, in the modern post-New-Age reinvention of our spiritual necessities.

    And if that seems tired and trite, then rest assured that the most traditional Buddhists are in on the game, too, they also anxious to liberate terminology from the ordinary humdrum of daily existence, add some hype, aka ‘wu-wu.’

    And one of the easiest ways to do that is simply to redefine terms and double them up. So Sanskrit ‘mudita’ becomes not just ‘joy’ but ‘sympathetic joy.’ And ‘metta’ becomes not just ‘kindness’ but ‘loving-kindness.’ And the Asians do this, too, Thais long combining ‘metta’ and ‘karuna’ (compassion) into one comprehensive ‘mettakaruna.’ Likewise ‘sati’ and ‘panya’ (knowledge) can become ‘satipanya’ for extra emphasis and expansion.

    So beyond all the back-stories and linguistic back-formations, what does the word ‘mindfulness’ now really mean in the Buddhist epistemological sense? As stated originally, probably the best interpretation is focused thinking, i.e. one thought at the time, since there truly is not the ability to hold two thoughts equally and simultaneously, but simply to switch between them constantly, so a trick in itself, but perhaps not conducive to a peaceful mind.

    But I think that a better notion is to think in terms of non-linguistic thought altogether, what I call ‘proto-consciousness’ or ‘paleo-consciousness,’ in the sense that this was once normal, no doubt, before the advent of language some 50,000 years ago, almost simultaneous with the demise of our competitors homo Denisova and Floresiensus, and finally Neanderthalensis.

    That is no coincidence, and no cause to celebrate. But that was then, and this is now. God knows that we are nothing if not a young species, and all should be forgiven. Bottom line: Cooperation is better than competition, community better than individualism. And mindfulness is more than a simple agreement of terms.

     
  • hardie karges 5:34 am on December 2, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Boy Scouts, , , , , , , , , , , sati, , ,   

    Boy Scouts: be prepared. Buddhists: not so fast… 

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    The Golden Spires of Shwedagon Pagoda

    This is one of the problems I have with Buddhism, the whole ‘no-thought’ paradigm, that always seems to find currency, notwithstanding the fact that the Buddha never said anything like that, not to my knowledge, anyway, and the term sati, which has taken on the meaning of ‘mindfulness’, probably had no such lofty connotations at the time, the problem now being one of vagueness, if not deliberate obfuscation, in order to inspire awe and reverence, apparently, as if it is untranslatable to the ordinary mortal…

    But it certainly is a common ordinary word in modern standard Thai, something like simple ‘consciousness’ or ‘mind’, so ‘mindfulness’ is a marketing hook to sell a fad to the West, that special sauce and some righteous hocus pocus, such that the makers of the film ‘Samadhi’ have to explain that the term is untranslatable to English, notwithstanding the fact that it is done all the time outside the rarefied circles of New Age fad religions… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 7:38 am on May 13, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Buddhist Studies, catuskoti, , , , , , , , , sati, , ,   

    Buddhist Studies: lists of lists, definitions defined and translations translated… 

    img_2116If there’s anything more annoying, as a Buddhist Studies MA student, than having to memorize lists of lists after lists full of lists from the annals of the ancients, it’s having to plow through the re-definitions of all those terms from the mouths of the moderns (is ‘anals’ a word?). This is not high scholarship. This is the business of busy-work, the intellectual equivalent of keeping that shovel moving to justify your union job, or to keep your position as the arbiter of privilege in the fan-boy chat-pages of Facebook…

    Yet that’s what they all do, in the Western Lands, at least, and even in the temples, too, as if only one new definition ‘changes everything’, so that the Pali/Sanskrit word ‘dukkha‘ is no longer merely ‘suffering’ but ‘stress’, ‘anguish, ‘dissatisfaction’, or maybe even just ‘a spot of unpleasantness’ so easily resolved by following that Yellow Brick Road known as the 8FP, Eight-fold Path, when the reality is not so easy at all… (More …)

     
  • hardie karges 4:00 pm on December 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , defilement, , , , , , , , sati, ,   

    Buddhist Dilemma: Does Mindfulness = No Thought? Hmmm… 

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    Reflections in the back seat

    ‘Mindfulness’ is one of those words deliberately created to defy definition, it seems, so when anybody asks me what it means I usually reply with something semi-snarky, like “the opposite of mindlessness” which seems like maybe avoiding the question, but which in fact is about as accurate as is possible, given the quasi-religious overtones and the need for a certain amount of obfuscation for dramatic effect, such being the need in Western circles, witness the ‘woo-woo’ factor of certain Pali/Sanskrit words like ‘samadhi‘…

    But the word ‘sati‘, from which ‘mindfulness’ is translated, by itself carries no transcendent connotations, at least not in modern standard Thai, in which it means simply ‘consciousness’ or ‘mind’, in the sense that one’s sati, i.e. brain, is maybe not so good anymore, or that he now has sati, i.e. is no longer unconscious—get it? And the usage of the term in Buddhism is not so much different, I think, and mindfulness is probably the best term for it, mind twice removed from pure simplicity, first with a ‘full’, next with a ‘ness’. But doesn’t that imply some level of thought, whether in narrative form or simple awareness, of cause and effect, spatial relations and orderliness? I would think so. So…

    (More …)

     
    • quantumpreceptor 3:26 pm on December 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      No thought, no. It’s the space between the thoughts where things get very interesting.

      QP

    • hardie karges 3:58 pm on December 11, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      True, BUT…. I think (oops!) there’s always room for thought–good thoughts…

    • quantumpreceptor 1:52 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      What I mean is this. Thoughts are not a problem in fact they can be used as a tool in the right circumstances. Avoiding them does not work, however slowing them down and seeing into the space between them is where we can begin to see that all is a reflection in the mirror of consciousness.

      QP

    • hardie karges 3:45 am on December 13, 2017 Permalink | Reply

      There you go, now we’re on the same page…

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