APPAMADA

Recently, I realized that the calligraphy over the altar, the one that is simply titled “Mindfulness,” is actually the Japanese representation of appamada. The kanji is composed of two simpler characters, and the Japanese word for it is nen. The top character means “now, today, this present era, this moment”. It looks like a peaked roof, or a mountain. The bottom character, shin, is usually translated as “heart” or “mind.” A more complete meaning of this character is “heart, mind, intelligence, soul.”

So a this whole kanji actually represents bringing your whole heart, mind, intelligence, and soul into this very moment, into right now, and into this modern era. Being in present moment awareness is a protection (a roof) or a stable foundation (a mountain) for our heart, mind, intelligence, and soul. In turn, this liberates us to be a benefit in the world, through our energetic, mindful, care.

This has so much more depth than the simple term “mindfulness.” Could anything be more appropriate for our sangha?


Calligraphy by Nonin Chowaney

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Comment by robin reese on October 7, 2009 at 11:20am
i love this calligraphy! i live up in taos and have searched the internet to find a source for a poster or one like it, with this kanji. i would love to find one to put up on my wall here. do you have any idea where yours came from. maybe it was it created specifically for Appamada? thank you... ~robin
Comment by Eric on September 15, 2009 at 1:01pm
So I think the word better (from my post above) may not be the most appropriate word. I think more appropriate would be more appropriate than better. And Peg already used the words more appropriate in the original post. That's why she's a teacher. : )

I know this post in response to my own post is a bit silly, but I wanted to share something that I read in Steve Hagen's Buddhism Plain and Simple.

In speaking about the eightfold path he talks about the word right which we find in all eight aspects of the eightfold path. These eight aspects are: right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right meditation. He states, "The word the Buddha actually used was samma. Samma is usually translated as "right" --but not "right" as opposed to "wrong," or "bad," or "evil." Normally the moment we say "right," we've already implied "wrong."

This reminded of the word "better" which seems to imply that something else is worse.

Hagen states that the term samma is more closely translated as "this is appropriate," "this works," or "this is in sync with Reality." He says, "Right, on the eightfold path, doesn't mean right versus wrong so much as it means seeing versus not seeing. It refers to being in touch with Reality as opposed to being deluded by our own prejudices, thoughts and beliefs. Samma refers to Wholeness rather than fragmentation."

I thought that was a rather poignant explanation on Hagen's part.
Comment by Eric on September 14, 2009 at 12:51pm
It's funny that the calligraphy painting has been there the whole time and was just recently realized to be the Japanese representation for Appamada. : ) I can't think of a better painting to be hanging above the alter.

 

 

Appamada is not just the occasional mindful thought or attentive state of mind, it’s actually a commitment to being attentive. It’s more than just a meditative state of mind, it’s more than just being mindful. It has to do with that primary ethical or moral orientation we have in life, with which we bring into being whatever activity we’re engaged in. Whether in formal meditation, in our interactions with other people, in our social concerns, or in our political choices, it’s the energetic cherishing of what we regard as good.

—Stephen Batchelor

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