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The Emphasis on the Present Moment in the Cultivation of Mindfulness

  • Bhikkhu Anālayo


The objective of this article is to explore the relationship between the present moment and mindfulness practice in early Buddhism. Based on text-critical study, I begin with a brief look at the etymology of the term satipaṭṭhāna and then survey the mindfulness exercises found in the Satipaṭṭhāna-sutta and in at least one of its two Chinese Āgama parallels from the perspective of their relationship to the present moment. Exploring the same topic in relation to mindful eating leads me on to the memory dimension of mindfulness, in relation to which I argue that the temporal reference of memory to the past needs to be seen as only one dimension, rather than an exhaustive account of mindfulness. My overall conclusion is that the emphasis on the present-centeredness of mindfulness in contemporary MBIs has a precedent in early Buddhist thought, where a range of exercises described under the four establishments of mindfulness as well as the practice of mindful eating exhibit a similar concern with the present moment.


Early Buddhism Memory Mindfulness Overeating Present moment Satipaṭṭhāna 




Dīrgha-āgama (T 1)



Ekottarika-āgama (T 125)

Madhyama-āgama (T 26)



Saṃyukta-āgama (T 99)


Saṃyukta-āgama (T 100)




Taishō edition




Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies performed by the author with human participants or animals.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Barre Center for Buddhist StudiesBarreUSA

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