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An Examination of Temporality in Mindfulness Meditation

  • 불교학리뷰
  • Abbr : Critical Review for Buddhist Studies
  • 2020, (28), pp.9-31
  • DOI : 10.29213/crbs..28.202010.9
  • Publisher : Geumgang Center for Buddhist Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Buddhist Studies
  • Received : June 24, 2020
  • Accepted : September 29, 2020
  • Published : October 31, 2020

Yao-ming Tsai 1

1National Taiwan University

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Mindfulness meditation is a way to steady the mind from the ground up and maintain awareness of the actual activities of one’s body, feelings, mind, and related factors. Nowadays, more and more people emphasize present-moment awareness as a key feature of mindfulness exercises and consequently regard mindfulness as the art of being in the present moment. However, from a temporal perspective, the present is constantly fluctuating. To what extent is mindfulness about present moment awareness and what role do the past and future play in that awareness? This paper seeks to address this issue by exploring the Satipaṭṭhānasutta (The Discourse on the Ways of Attending to Mindfulness) and other Buddhist texts on meditative practices. If mindfulness is to be developed to its maximum capacity, including meditative absorption (Pāli, jhāna), meditative concentration (Pāli, samādhi) and nibbāna, then just focusing on the present momentz and non-judgmentally observing our experiences will not be enough, both theoretically and practically, to achieve many of the stated goals of the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta. This paper proposes that, theoretically, a philosophy of time and temporality is required to answer the difficult question of how mindfulness and meditative absorption are possible while the present is non-abiding, and practically, a more comprehensive strategy to deal with the past, future and present is also essential in overcoming the overall suffering of existence.

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