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