Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Mahayana


Modern exponents of mindfulness meditation promote the therapeutic effects of “bare attention”-a sort of non-judgmental, non-discursive attending to the moment-to-moment flow of consciousness. This approach to Buddhist meditation can be traced to Burmese Buddhist reform movements of the first half of the 20th century, and is arguably at odds with more traditional Theravāda Buddhist doctrine and meditative practices. But the cultivation of present-centered awareness is not without precedent in Buddhist history; similar innovations arose in medieval Chinese Zen (Chan) and Tibetan Dzogchen. These movements have several things in common. In each case the reforms were, in part, attempts to render Buddhist practice and insight accessible to laypersons unfamiliar with Buddhist philosophy and/or unwilling to adopt a renunciatory lifestyle. In addition, these movements all promised astonishingly quick results. And finally, the innovations in practice were met with suspicion and criticism from traditional Buddhist quarters. Those interested in the therapeutic effects of mindfulness and bare attention are often not aware of the existence, much less the content, of the controversies surrounding these practices in Asian Buddhist history.

Concepts: Anapanasati, Mahayana, 20th century, Buddhist philosophy, Buddhism, Zen, Buddhist meditation, Meditation


It is an old philosophical idea that if the future self is literally different from the current self, one should be less concerned with the death of the future self (Parfit, ). This paper examines the relation between attitudes about death and the self among Hindus, Westerners, and three Buddhist populations (Lay Tibetan, Lay Bhutanese, and monastic Tibetans). Compared with other groups, monastic Tibetans gave particularly strong denials of the continuity of self, across several measures. We predicted that the denial of self would be associated with a lower fear of death and greater generosity toward others. To our surprise, we found the opposite. Monastic Tibetan Buddhists showed significantly greater fear of death than any other group. The monastics were also less generous than any other group about the prospect of giving up a slightly longer life in order to extend the life of another.

Concepts: Defence mechanism, Tibet, Gautama Buddha, Vajrayana, Future, Mahayana, Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhism


People implicitly associate the “past” and “future” with “front” and “back” in their minds according to their cultural attitudes toward time. As the temporal focus hypothesis (TFH) proposes, future-oriented people tend to think about time according to the future-in-front mapping, whereas past-oriented people tend to think about time according to the past-in-front mapping (de la Fuente, Santiago, Román, Dumitrache, & Casasanto, 2014). Whereas previous studies have demonstrated that culture exerts an important influence on people’s implicit spatializations of time, we focus specifically on religion, a prominent layer of culture, as potential additional influence on space-time mappings. In Experiment 1 and 2, we observed a difference between the two religious groups, with Buddhists being more past-focused and more frequently conceptualizing the past as ahead of them and the future as behind them, and Taoists more future-focused and exhibiting the opposite space-time mapping. In Experiment 3, we administered a religion prime, in which Buddhists were randomly assigned to visualize the picture of the Buddhas of the Past (Buddha Dipamkara) or the Future (Buddha Maitreya). Results showed that the pictorial icon of Dipamkara increased participants' tendency to conceptualize the past as in front of them. In contrast, the pictorial icon of Maitreya caused a dramatic increase in the rate of future-in-front responses. In Experiment 4, the causal effect of religion on implicit space-time mappings was replicated in atheists. Taken together, these findings provide converging evidence for the hypothesized causal role of religion for temporal focus in determining space-time mappings.

Concepts: Mahayana, Maitreya, Buddhahood, Buddhism, Future, Hypothesis, Causality, Time


Amidst the burgeoning enthusiasm for mindfulness in the West, there is a concern that the largely secular ‘de-contextualized’ way in which it is being harnessed is denuding it of its potential to improve health and well-being. As such, efforts are underway to ’re-contextualize' mindfulness, explicitly drawing on the wider framework of Buddhist ideas and practices in which it was initially developed. This paper aims to contribute to this, doing so by focusing on Zen Buddhism, and in particular on Zen aesthetic principles. The article concentrates on the seven principles identified by Hisamatsu (1971) in his classic text Zen and the Fine Arts: kanso (simplicity); fukinsei (asymmetry); koko (austere sublimity); shizen (naturalness); daisuzoku (freedom from routine); sei-jaku (tranquillity); and yūgen (profound grace). The presence of these principles in works of art is seen as reflecting and communicating insights that are central to Buddhism, such as non-attachment. Moreover, these principles do not only apply to the creation and appreciation of art, but have clear applications for treating health-related issues, and improving quality of life more generally. This paper makes the case that embodying these principles in their lives can help people enhance their psychosomatic well-being, and come to a truer understanding of the essence of mindful living.

Concepts: Mahayana, Arts, Zen, Buddhist meditation, Meditation, Buddhism, Art, Aesthetics


This is a review of a collection of six essays. These essays, with the exception of one, are written by the followers of Shin Buddhism (Pure Land Buddhism). The last essay in this collection is written from the perspective of Theravada Buddhism rather than Mahayana Buddhism. This collection is a result of the initiative by Rev. Yoshiharu Tomatsu who, as a Buddhist priest, has acquired hands-on experience in dealing with grieving Temple members and became acutely aware of the discrepancy between a medical system and a ritualistic Buddhist system. While a medical system overlooks the spiritual needs of the dying, a Buddhist temple system neglects the spiritual needs of the living. This book ensued from a project that was initiated in 2006 and focused on the above-mentioned missing links, aiming to bring into conversation medical and religious practitioners.

Concepts: Vajrayana, Schools of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, Bodhisattva, Nirvana, Buddhism, Mahayana, Pure Land Buddhism


This article addresses an apparent paradox found in Pali Buddhist literature: while the “uncompounded” (asaṅkhata) is valued over and above what is “compounded” (saṅkhata), the texts also encourage careful attention to relative (or, physical) health. The mind is the laboratory and the object of a thorough work meant to lead to final liberation from mental affliction and from the cycle of existence, whereas the body is perceived as impure, limited, and intrinsically unsatisfactory. Nonetheless, a disciple of the Buddha is supposed to take care of his/her own and others' physical wellbeing, and monastic equipment includes a set of medicines. “Ultimate health” is the final goal, but conventional healthcare supports the path to nibbāna and represents a value per se. The present article will explore the intricate connection between these two dimensions.

Concepts: Psychology, Pali, Mahayana, Perception, Sangha, Mind, Buddhism, Gautama Buddha


We propose to incorporate the contextual view of the Buddhist teachings of the Three Turnings into applications of mindfulness in psychotherapy; specifically by applying the teaching of the Four Postures, which are expressions of innate health in ordinary life activities. This practice may expand understanding of the core mechanisms of different modalities of mindfulness and psychotherapy, thereby supporting clinicians in guiding clients on a healing path that is in natural alignment with each individual. By its allegiance to inherent wakefulness (Buddha Nature), this teaching supports clients in appreciating their own inherent health and the health of the world around them.

Concepts: God in Buddhism, Buddha-nature, Clinical psychology, Nature, Buddhahood, Mahayana, Bodhi, Buddhism


Considerable attention is being given to the availability of bodies for anatomical education. This raises the question of the manner in which they are obtained, that is, whether they are unclaimed or donated. With increasing emphasis upon the ethical desirability of using body bequests, the spotlight tends to be focused on those countries with factors that militate against donations. However, little attention has been paid to cultures where donations are readily available. One such country is Sri Lanka where the majority of the Buddhist population follows Theravada Buddhism. Within this context, the expectation is that donations will be given selflessly without expecting anything in return. This is because donation of one’s body has blessings for a better outcome now and in the afterlife. The ceremonies to honor donors are outlined, including details of the “Pirith Ceremony.” The relevance for other cultures of these features of body donation is discussed paying especial attention to the meaning of altruism and consent, and justification for the anonymization of cadavers. The degree to which anatomy is integrated into the surrounding culture also emerges as significant. Anat Sci Educ. © 2015 American Association of Anatomists.

Concepts: Nirvana, Theravada, Mahayana, Human anatomy, Schools of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, Buddhism, Sri Lanka


For over 20 centuries, Buddhism has been the spiritual practice of the majority of Sri Lankans. Though Buddhist practices have been increasingly influencing psychotherapy in the West, the use of such practices in psychotherapy in Sri Lanka is not common. This paper attempts to bridge this gap by presenting a case study where Buddhist mindfulness practice was used successfully in the treatment of a case of obsessive compulsive disorder. This paper also presents an outline of the association between Buddhist mindfulness practice and mindfulness practices used in modern-day psychotherapy and discusses issues in the use of mindfulness practice in psychotherapy.

Concepts: Meditation, Mahayana, Sangha, Gautama Buddha, India, Sanskrit, Buddhism, Sri Lanka