Ever since Buddhism is brought to the West, the term "Mindfulness" has become a hype, or mania. We see "mindfulness" in many places, and contexts. Mindful living, mindful parenting, mindful eating, mindful sex, mindful leadership, mindful coloring books are such examples that we see in the community. Moreover, the news have also reported similar stories. "In Silicon Valley,Meditation Is No Fad. It Could Make Your Career" was reported in a Wired news headline, Forbes also reported that "Why Mindfulness Techniques Can Bring You Success In A Wired World". We see that the Western society has marketed"mindfulness" for corporate commodity without understanding the word deeply.
What the result has become of "mindfulness", is about our little box, called "self". The "mindfulness" society speaks of today is the non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and sensations going on inside your mind, speech, or body. However, this "mindfulness", is in fact, not mindful at all. First, have you noticed that I have put quotation marks on the term "Mindfulness" all these while? Why? It is because many do not understand mindfulness that they think that non-judgment awareness is mindful. What is mindfulness then? Mindfulness is right, or Right Mindfulness. You should not have greed, hatred, or ignorance when you are mindful. It constitutes wholesome actions, wholesome speech, wholesome thoughts. When you have right mindfulness, you do good deeds, speak good words, think good thoughts. You do not kill, steal, lie, have sexual misconduct, or take intoxicants.
For example, if you are eating "mindfully", what are you not judging? The taste, texture etc.? If you think "Ah... this food taste salty" as you take a bite, and continue to take another bite, and more bites, while thinking "Ah... this food taste salty", you are aware of what you are thinking while eating. That is just attention. But you are not mindful. Why? Because you are not mindful of your craving, your behavior. It is not about your box call thoughts only. It constitutes wholesome actions. If you are indeed mindful, you will recognize greed if you continue eating more than needed. You will have control over yourself. If people ask you to stop eating, you can stop eating and not have any greed for the food, anger towards the person, or ignorance about the matter. It is the same for killing. Put a word "mindful" before killing? Mindful killing. What does it entails? Do you kill a being, and then tell yourself "I just killed a living being. This is just a thought. I sense anger, it is only an emotion."? No. Mindfulness does not work that way. That "mindful killing" that just occurred, is ignorance.
Mindfulness is thus, not only about your own thoughts. It is about how your relationship with other people. Are you angry with other people? Do you have kindness, compassion, joy, equanimity? Are you patient with people? Are there transgressions or defilements that I have to change? If you are aware of them, and change them, then you are mindful. We have to be in accord with living beings. Being mindful is not only about attending to your thoughts. You also have to attend to your actions, and speech. That is right mindfulness. In hopes of writing this article, I hope that we can rethink what society means by mindfulness, and how it drastically differs from what Buddhists understand mindfulness as. Maybe we can help them understand what Right Mindfulness is in hopes of a better society.