Mindfulness is Critical

William B. Turner
2 min readMar 5, 2022
The Buddha

One teacher defines mindfulness as being aware of events as they are happening.

To some extent, we are always minimally mindful, or we could never get anything done. But you will discover if you keep up your meditation practice consistently enough for long enough that mindfulness has limitless depth. You can always grow more mindful. Or, maybe the Buddha hit the maximum possible level of mindfulness after he awakened, but that is irrelevant. The primary concern is to awaken, but mindfulness is hugely helpful in noticing that you are awake. That’s the point.

The Buddha identified four foundations of mindfulness, mindfulness of the body, of vedana, or the immediate evaluation of any experience as positive, negative, or neutral, mindfulness of the state of mind, and mindfulness of the contents of mind. Right mindfulness is an element on the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Buddha said flatly that anyone who can maintain the requisite level of mindfulness for a week will awaken fully. Obviously, that is a higher level of mindfulness than we usually operate at.

In the interim, mindfulness is critical because some realizations are so subtle that you may not notice them if you are not sufficiently mindful. It sounds kind of absurd to say that we could awaken and not notice, but that’s exactly where the Buddha said we are.

In some sense, then, mindfulness changes nothing about our situation. It just gives us a different perspective, which is all we really need.

You may choose to meditate on mindfulness. This is one of those phenomena that you will suddenly start to notice a lot more once you know about it. But your consistent meditation practice will improve your mindfulness automatically.

So keep up your consistent meditation practice.

I would like to enlighten everyone. You may help with this important project, and accumulate good karma, by donating here. I feel like I should be a bit louder about thanking the people who have already donated, especially the recent large, anonymous donation. I appreciate all of them enormously.

William B. Turner

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.