Mindfulness in Early Buddhism: New Approaches through Psychology and Textual Analysis of Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit Sources

Mindfulness in Early Buddhism by Tse-fu Kuan

Title: Mindfulness in Early Buddhism: New Approaches through Psychology and Textual Analysis of Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit Sources
Author: Tse-fu Kuan
Publisher: Routledge
Language: English
Length:‎ 256 pages

1.Mindfulness in soteriology: Transformation of cognition and emotion
1.Mindfulness and sañña
2.Mindfulness and cognition
3.Mindfulness and emotion
4.Mindfulness and the Path to Liberation

2.Types and functions of mindfulness
1.Simple awareness
2.Protective awareness
3.Introspective awareness
4.Deliberately forming conceptions

3.Mindfulness in methodical meditation
1.Mindfulness and insight (vipassana) meditation
2.Mindfulness and serenity (samatha) meditation
3.Mindfulness of breathing—an example of samatha and vipassana yoked together

4.Kayagata sati: Mindfulness directed to the experiencer
1.The origins of the Kayagatasati Sutta
2.The meaning of kayagata sati

5.The four satipaWWhAnas: Mindfulness as a comprehensive path
1.Investigating the (Maha)satipawwhana Sutta and its authenticity
2.Essential teachings on the four satipawwhanas
3.The four satipawwhanas and kayagata sati
4.The four satipawwhanas emphasized as the Buddha’s final teaching

This book identifies what is meant by sati (smrti), usually translated as ‘mindfulness’, in early Buddhism, and examines its soteriological functions and its central role in the early Buddhist practice and philosophy.

Using textual analysis and criticism, it takes new approaches to the subject through a comparative study of Buddhist texts in Pali, Chinese and Sanskrit. It also furnishes new perspectives on the ancient teaching by applying the findings in modern psychology.

In contemporary Buddhism, the practice of mindfulness is zealously advocated by the Theravada tradition, which is the only early Buddhist school that still exists today. Through detailed analysis of Theravada’s Pali Canon and the four Chinese Agamas – which correspond to the four main Nikayas in Pali and belong to some early schools that no longer exist – this book shows that mindfulness is not only limited to the role as a method of insight (vipassana) meditation, as presented by many Theravada advocates, but it also has a key role in serenity (samatha) meditation.

It elucidates how mindfulness functions in the path to liberation from a psychological perspective, that is, how it helps to achieve an optimal cognitive capability and emotional state, and thereby enables one to attain the ultimate religious goal. Furthermore, the author argues that the well-known formula of ekayano maggo, which is often interpreted as ‘the only way’, implies that the four satipatthanas (establishments of mindfulness) constitute a comprehensive path to liberation, and refer to the same as kayagata sati, which has long been understood as ‘mindfulness of the body’ by the tradition.

The analysis shows that kayagata sati and the four satipatthanas are two different ways of formulating the teaching on mindfulness according to different schemes of classification of phenomena.

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