The Mindful Self in Space and Time

  • Jack Petranker
Part of the Mindfulness in Behavioral Health book series (MIBH)


The contemporary mindfulness movement emphasizes cultivating present-centered awareness. While this simple practice seems to offer real benefits, it has been criticized on the grounds that it psychologizes the Buddhist teachings on which it relies and, in doing so, discards the Buddha’s central concern: undoing fundamental forms of ignorance and craving that fuel the fires of samsaric suffering. Supporters reply that linking the practice of mindfulness to such traditional teachings would erect a needless barrier to its benefits; some also maintain that mindfulness as they present it preserves and updates what is most central to Buddhism. This chapter sidesteps this debate by introducing a different way of being mindful, one that focuses on the fullness of space rather than the present-centered immediacy of time. The basic practice is to investigate the space, or field, within which appearances arise rather than the specific appearances themselves. Field-centered mindfulness builds on present-centered mindfulness, but introduces a fundamentally different orientation to the stream of experiences and appearances we encounter. In doing so, it challenges the standard subject/object framework, which receives little if any attention in the practice of present-centered mindfulness. Without requiring practitioners to study and accept Buddhist doctrines or a Buddhist worldview, a space-centered approach offers a way of seeing that seems congruent with key Buddhist insights. For this reason, it has the potential to become what ancient Western philosophers called a therapeia, a cure for the existential ailment characteristic of our times.


Mindfulness Space Field Framework Therapeia Tarthang Tulku Self 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mangalam Research Center for Buddhist LanguagesCenter for Creative InquiryBerkeleyUSA

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