This is a series of essays on mindfulness written for the 2008 Dharma Gathering. They explore the nature of mindfulness (sati) by examining how the Buddha and his students used the term.
This first essay examines the nature of mindfulness, with particular reference to Mahasihanada Sutta (Greater discourse on the lion’s roar M12). The word sati, usually translated as “mindfulness,” literally means “memory,” and here we look at why the Buddha would take a word meaning “memory,” turn it into a specialised technical term, and place it at the centre of his approach to meditation. The essay goes on to examine the relationship between memory and wisdom.
Here we look at the meaning of mindfulness by looking at how the Buddha speaks of "establishing" mindfulness, and how he speaks of its loss.
This essay looks at the role of mindfulness in guarding the mind, and the closely related practice of sense restraint (indriya samvara). Both of these show the inescapably ethical nature of mindfulness.
This essay examines mindfulness in meditation practice, beginning with the relationship between mindfulness and concentration (samadhi), followed by what makes mindfulness “right” mindfulness, and so a factor of the noble eightfold path (ariya atthangika magga). Finally, it looks at how the Buddha speaks of mindfulness and the establishments of mindfulness (satipatthana) in working with a specific meditation object, breathing (anapanasati).
This final essay explores the relationship between mindfulness on the one hand, and feeling (vedana) and insight (vipassana) on the other. What is feeling? And how does the Buddha speak of mindfulness of feeling as a basis for insight?