The Meaning of Mindfulness

Ven. Jinmyo Renge sensei

Mindfulness is wordless. Mindfulness is meeting the moment as it is, moment after moment after moment, wordlessly attending to our experiencing as it actually is. It is opening to not just the fragments of our lives that we like or dislike or view as important, but the whole of our experiencing.

But what does the word "mindfulness" mean? The English word "mindfulness" - that we use - is a translation of the Pali, Sanskrit and Japanese terms, "sati", "smirti" and "nen". Another English translation of the Pali word "sati" is "memory". This is what "mindfulness" means - memory. But when I say "memory", I am not referring to the habitual crunching of attention that people engage in when they are trying to remember things past. The kind of memory I am speaking of is the capacity to remember that allows you to remember reality in this moment. It is this capacity that allows you to understand the meaning of each word I am saying as I am saying it. Without it, there would be no continuity to your experiencing whatsoever.

This capacity to remember is a "mental factor" A mental factor is a gathering or grouping of movements of attention that make up how we perceive, or can condition how we interpret what we are experiencing, depending upon whether they are open or closed. "Mindfulness of mental factors" is one of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as taught by the Buddha in the Mahasatipattana sutta. And so to understand what the word "mindfulness" means, we need to understand what a mental factor is.

Who then are you, O Immaculate conception?

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Just a few hours before his second and final arrest, St. Maximilian Kolbe on February 17, 1941, wrote down his last reflections on the Immaculate Conception. The question, Who are you, O Immaculate Conception? occupied his priestly mind and heart forming him to be a living witness of the power of the Immaculate and to die as a living offering of love. – The Remnant


IMMACULATE CONCEPTION". — These words fell from the lips of the Immaculata herself. Hence, they must tell us in the most precise and essential manner who she really is.

Since human words are incapable of expressing divine realities, it follows that these words: “Immaculate,” and “Conception” must be understood in a much more profound, much more beautiful and sublime meaning than usual: a meaning beyond that which human reason at its most penetrating, commonly gives to them.

St. Paul wrote, quoting the Prophet Isaiah: “Things that the eye has not seen, that the ear has not heard, that the heart of man has not imagined” (Is. 64,4), such are the good things that God has prepared for those who love him (I Cor. 2,9). Here, these words apply fully.

However, we can and should reverently inquire into the mystery of the Immaculata and try to express it with words provided by our intelligence using its own proper powers.

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