Moving from Mindfulness to Mindlessness

by | Nov 13, 2019

Origin Of Mindfulness

In 1881 Buddhist scholar T. W. Rhys Davids in his book, Buddhist suttas translated the Pali language word sati as ‘mental activity’. In his 1910 work, he used the term mindfulness to mean sati. In Pali, sati means ‘remembrance’ and ‘recollection’, more simply put ‘memory’. 

The Pali word sati comes from the Sanskrit word smriti, as distinct from the more powerful word sruti which means ‘what is revealed upon deep awareness to the wise’. Connotation of smriti was always inferior to smriti or sati, which was an attribute to be overcome as it arose from conditioned memories, mostly negative, as in the Freudian Jungian description of negative subconscious and unconscious memories. The word sati in Chinese became nien referring to a cognitive thought or idea. The word memory had negative connotations in Hinduism and Buddhism.  

Scholars, who were invested in this wrong western definition of a strange foreign word sati had to find a WEIRD way around this. John Peacock redefined it as an activity ‘one is engaged in, in the present moment’. Kabat-Zinn later expanded on it as the ‘awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment’.

These explanations are like Lewis Carroll’s character Humpty Dumpty saying to Alice in rather a scornful tone in ‘Through the Looking Glass’: ‘When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’

Tasting the Raisin Mindfulness 101 that new age Buddhist followers teach is a sensory and ego based experience. It has only a forced artificial connect to any form of meditation. At best mindfulness may relax. 

In Yoga and according to Upanishads, mindful state of awareness is Level 1 in the four level states of awareness. Mindful awareness of the ‘awake’ state is needed without doubt as the first step in a journey of a thousand miles, but not as the destination to aspire to. 

Hinduism to Buddhism

Mu-shin meaning mind without mind is explained by D.T.Suzuki, probably the most authoritative interpreter of Zen Buddhism to the Western audience, as being free from mind attachment, or the no-mind state. This aligns with the concept on wu-nien or wu-hsin meaning no thought, based on what Buddha taught as sunya or sunyata, emptiness or nothingness.

Isa vasya Upanishad, probably the oldest living scripture, says that ‘all that there is, is energy’ and terms this as purna, completeness. commenting on the Mandukya Upanishad, Gaudapada, guru of Govinda who was the guru Shankara, says that Brahman is the ultimate state of consciousness, resting in itself, unborn and not causing anything to be born, formless, with no movement, the state of highest truth and bliss. Brahman is the purna Isa Vasya mentioned, also often termed as sat-chit-ananda in Hindu scriptures. 

The purna of the Hindu Upanishad is the same as the sunya of Buddha. Purna refers to the infinite potentiality of energy when the mind body is sunya, empty. This state is represented by Coacharya’s logo in which zero atop the infinity refers to the congruent state of the nothingness of mind body resting on the infinity of energy, the state of mindless meditation.

This concept existed over countless millennia. This logo was created by Prashant Miranda, a dear friend, mystic, and in his own right a great philosopher.

Sunya, Purna, Brahman, Samadhi, Nirvana and many other words that connote this ultimate state of consciousness are all representative of Collective Consciousness that pervades the Universe. I see a close parallel in Jung’s concept of Collective Unconscious, as different from the Freudian Unconscious, with the Hindu Buddhist understanding of universal intelligence as the highest level of energy consciousness.

This state, whatever name one wants to use for it, and I choose to call it the ‘mindless’ state with energy awareness stepping in place of mind body awareness, is quite the same as the concept of singularity in Quantum Science, in which all that there is as matter dissolves into a near invisible point, which in turn opens into infinite possibilities of multiple realities of universes. Everything is ‘entangled’ influencing one another as energy, yet every thing is distinct as matter. The electron and the nucleus of proton and neutron co-exist disconnected.

Any one can experience this state, albeit briefly, through practices of yoganidra and vipassana allowing the mind body to dissolve into an infinitely expanding energy space of multi-universe. We are connected to one another and to the collective universe, yet we are distinct in Self. 

In this state on mindlessness there is no renunciation or negation of anything. It is a state of pure acceptance. What is there to renounce, even one’s mind and body, when one accepts that all is energy?

Mindless Meditation

Ram Ramanathan
Ram Ramanathan


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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