What was the primary purpose of mindfulness?
In order to find the root cause, we must find the origins of the concept of mindfulness. Irrespective of whether we use this concept today as a secular or non-secular one, the origins of mindfulness can be traced back 25 centuries to the teachings of the Buddha. According to the Buddha’s early teachings, being mindful of the bodily experience (such as breathing, bodily sensation, and contemplation of the nature of the body itself) is the starting point and the gateway to transcending the conditioned state ( for example, our thoughts, feelings, perceptions are conditioned). Our world is entirely our own creation. As such, it is possible to transcend this conditioned state and completely eradicate the psychological suffering. This transcendence is achieved only through experiencing the impermanence of the conditioned state by using knowledge (not thinking or observing, but knowing the cause and effect). Mindfulness or being aware of the direct experience is only a means to an end. It can only bring one’s attention to a particular experience in the present moment, however, it cannot reveal the causes of that experience, unless the person is aware of the causes. That is why, one must practice mindfulness after understanding the purpose and practicing exactly according to the Buddha’s instructions. Our own interpretations of the concept and methods may hinder the progress substantially. Therefore, it is important to investigate the source information and original translation of the teaching. There is no point driving 1000 miles in the wrong direction; 1 mile in the right direction takes you closer to the goal.