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Buddhist Styles of Mindfulness: A Heuristic Approach

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Handbook of Mindfulness and Self-Regulation

Abstract

Over the last several years, various authors have examined contemporary conceptions of mindfulness in relation to Buddhist notions. Some authors maintain that contemporary approaches to mindfulness deviate significantly from the authentic Buddhist approach, while others see more alignment between contemporary approaches and some t\ styles of practice. The differing opinions in this regard can be confusing, and the aim of this chapter is to lessen that confusion by offering an overview of key Buddhist approaches to mindfulness in a manner that enables researchers to make appropriate use of Buddhist sources. In particular, this chapter presents heuristic categories that sort Buddhist theories and practices into two distinct styles, the “Classical” and the “Nondual,” and compares them to contemporary approaches to mindfulness, especially in relation to three crucial aspects of formal practice: ethics, judgment, and present-centered awareness.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Because Sanskrit has the broadest range of application, technical Buddhist terms are given in Sanskrit. However, because discussions of mindfulness often involve Pali (the language used by Theravāda traditions), it is occasionally cited with its Sanskrit equivalent. Terms drawn from Tibetan contexts are cited in Tibetan.

  2. 2.

    Two useful, if competing accounts of the issues discussed in this section are Gold (2014) and Lusthaus (Lusthaus, 2002).

  3. 3.

    For resources to explore this issue, see Dreyfus (1997), Dunne (2004), Arnold (2012) and Coseru (2012).

  4. 4.

    The account given here is based on Dunne (2004, 2011a).

  5. 5.

    This section is based on the account given in the third chapter of Dharmakīrti’s Pramān.avārttika as presented in Dunne (2012). See also Arnold (2012).

  6. 6.

    This is certainly the opinion of another Mahāmudrā author, Tsélé Natsôg Rangdröl (rTse le sna tshogs rang grol, b. 1608), who understands mindfulness to be the reflexive monitoring aspect of śamatha and who sees that mindfulness as itself becoming nondual insight (Sna tshogs rang grol & Kunsang, 2009).

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Dunne, J.D. (2015). Buddhist Styles of Mindfulness: A Heuristic Approach. In: Ostafin, B., Robinson, M., Meier, B. (eds) Handbook of Mindfulness and Self-Regulation. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-2263-5_18

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