The Buddhist technical term sati in Pali (or smrti in Sanskrit) was first translated with the English word mindfulness by T.W. Rhys Davids in 1881. So says Rupert Gethin in his article On some definitions of mindfulness (Contemporary Buddhism Vol. 12, No. 1, May 2011).

Previous dictionaries had translated this complex technical term with translations such as ‘remembrance, memory, reminiscence, recollection, thinking of or upon (any person or thing), calling to mind.’ (p.263)

One of the misunderstandings of the word ‘mindfulness’ is that people sometimes assume it is a Buddhist word, rather than an English word that translates a Buddhist term.

Gethin goes on to say that he is not surprised that this word is used. The OED ‘records the use of the English ‘mindfulness’ in the sense of ‘the state or quality of being mindful; attention; memory (obs.); intention, purpose (obs.).’ from 1530 A.D.’ (p.264)

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About Sandra Delemare

follower of Jesus, retired mental health nurse, writer. Interests: crochet, photography, wildlife I blog on biblical meditation, mental health and crochet. I'm also posting a series on my life story so people know where I'm coming from.
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