Spirituality Studies 9-1 Spring 2023 81 Russell Suereth Mindfulness may seem like it relates to memory. For example, early Buddhism contained references to memory in mindfulness. However, that type of memory was more than a recollection of past events. Instead, it referred to keeping things in mind, and being open to receiving information about ourselves and the world around us (Anālayo 2020b, 323–324). In this way, mindfulness helps move us toward an awakening. It is an awakening that is both internal and external, and suggests a shift toward an awareness of the experience of others (Anālayo 2020b, 324). Mindfulness is also a focus on something. It is a purposeful and conscious attention to a particular thing (Hanh 2009, 5). For example, a focus of our mindfulness could be the Buddha’s teachings (Van Schaik 2016, 196), or how we interact with people and categorize them. When the Buddha talks about Right Mindfulness the word “right” describes a movement away from false influences in our life and a move toward doing right things in the right way (Thera 2014, 11). In early Buddhist teachings, “right” refers to an awakening and openness in our interactions with our world. In those teachings, mindfulness is not a set of ethics, but instead works together with our ethics since being ethical cleanses our inner selves and being mindful strengthens our ethics (Anālayo 2021, 91–93). In this way our mindfulness helps in our social interactions with others. Mindfulness in the ancient Buddhist texts is often connected to the term clear comprehension. Where mindfulness is paying close attention to something, clear comprehension is acting upon it (Thera 2014, 14–15). Clear comprehension also enables us to concentrate our activity on purposeful words and actions (Thera 2014, 34–40). More importantly, in the context of social categorization in this article, clear comprehension guides us toward selfless action in the aid of those who are suffering (Thera 2014, 50). 4 Mindfulness Today Today, according to Cassaniti (2018, 235), mindfulness in the United States and Asian Buddhist areas is practiced similarly. That is, both focus on being attentive to our thoughts, feelings, and surroundings or, in other words, being attentive to the present moment. Both also employ mindfulness to bring greater calm to ourselves and develop a greater awareness of others. However, Asian Buddhist mindfulness tends to retain the Buddhist tradition, while mindfulness in the United States focuses more on an awareness of the self, others, and the encompassing environment. In its contemporary usage, mindfulness is sometimes described as an activity of bare attention. Interestingly, this bare attention is only one way to practice mindfulness. Today we use it as a learning tool for those beginning a mindful practice. In this article, we will employ the simpler version of mindfulness as attention. Accordingly, as a short definition for the remainder of this article, mindfulness is paying attention to ourselves, others, and the world around us. How we observe with our mindfulness is important because it should occur without judging ourselves or others (Verhaeghen 2020, 306). An important aspect of mindfulness is that it is practiced in the present moment. When we observe ourselves and others through mindfulness, we refrain from analyzing past feelings and actions and forgo the fantasies of future possibilities. Instead, in mindfulness, we remain in the present. Being in the present moment can reduce the suffering in our daily lives. Epstein (2019, 31) describes how connecting to the present is a spiritual need in Judaism. In this sense, suffering arises when we move away from the present and lean toward worries of the past and anxieties of the future. The Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh (1992, 27) suggests that we should be aware of the present moment, even in our ordinary activities: Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end – that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes, we also do the dishes just to do the dishes, to live fully in each moment while washing them. Through mindfulness, our everyday lives become more than carrying out daily routines. With the practice of mindfulness, the moments in our lives become more interesting and creative (Hahn 1992, 40). 5 Mindfulness is Action We may presume that mindfulness is only about contemplation. However, action is an essential part of mindfulness. As Hanh (2020, 115–116) suggests, “Buddhism must be engaged. What is the use of practicing meditation if it does not have anything to do with our daily lives?” Several years ago, I trained to become a meditation instructor and realized the classes subtly led toward action. In the ancient samatha tradition (Batchelor 2011, 163–164; Wallace 2007, 135–137), we were taught to meditate with our eyes open. Interestingly, this method connected our meditation to the world around us. It prepared us to remain calm during difficult meetings and long waiting lines. It gradually incorporated our meditation into the activities of our everyday lives.