Mindfulness and Its Absence – The Development of the Term Mindfulness and the Meditation Techniques Connected to It from Daoist Classics to the Sinicized Buddhism of the Chan School
Keywords:sinicization of Buddhism, Chan, Chinese concept of mindfulness, nian, Daoism
This article addresses the modifications of the term mindfulness in sinicized meditation practices derived from Indian Buddhism. It attempts to shed some light on these modifications from two different aspects: first the classical Daoist meditation practices were analysed, and this showed why and in what way did the Daoist terminology function as a bridge in the initial phase of translating Buddhist concepts and the sinicization of Buddhist philosophy. The second aspect focused on the concept of mindfulness. The author addressed the development of the original etymological meaning and the later semantic connotations of the concept nian 念, which––in most translated literature––represents synonyms for the term sati (Pāli) or smrti (Sanskrit), from which it is translated into awareness (in most Indo-European languages) or mindfulness (in English). Based on the analysis of these two aspects the author showed the specifics of the modification of the term mindfulness in Chinese meditative practices as they were formed in the Buddhism of the Chan 禪 School. The various understandings of this concept are shown through the contrast of the interpretations of the notion of nian 念 in the North and South Schools of Chan Buddhism.
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