pp 1–6 | Cite as

Ancient Indian Education and Mindfulness

  • Bhikkhu Anālayo
Original Paper


Ancient Indian precedents for the notion of mindfulness in current usage are related to learning by rote. This appears to have been based on an intentional training in memorizing texts without drawing inferences, in order to avoid interfering with precise recall. Such absence of inferencing relates to the Buddhist notion of bare awareness, a modality of mindfulness that aims at staying with bare sensory experience without additional layers of associations and mental proliferations. The same basic mechanism appears to be relevant to understanding the potential of mindfulness to counter addictive behavior, such as smoking.


Addiction Bare awareness Education Memory Mindfulness Smoking 


Madhyama-āgama (T 26)



Saṃyukta-āgama (T 99)




Taishō edition




Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies performed by the author with human participants or animals.


  1. Anālayo, B. (2016). Early Buddhist mindfulness and memory, the body, and pain. Mindfulness, 7, 1271–1280. Scholar
  2. Anālayo, B. (2018a). The Bāhiya instruction and bare awareness. Indian International Journal of Buddhist Studies, 19, 1–19.Google Scholar
  3. Anālayo, B. (2018b). Mindfulness constructs in early Buddhism and Theravāda, another contribution to the memory debate. Mindfulness, 9, 1047–1051. Scholar
  4. Anālayo, B. (2018c). Once again on mindfulness and memory. Mindfulness, 9, 1–6. Scholar
  5. Anālayo, B. (2018d). Remembering with wisdom is not intrinsic to all forms of mindfulness. Mindfulness, 9, 1987–1990. Scholar
  6. Anālayo, B. (2019a). In the seen just the seen: mindfulness and the construction of experience. Mindfulness, 10, 179–184. Scholar
  7. Anālayo, B. (2019b). The emphasis on the present moment in the cultivation of mindfulness. Mindfulness, 10, 571–581.
  8. Andreu, C. I., Cosmelli, D., Slagter, H. A., & Franken, I. H. A. (2018). Effects of a brief mindfulness-meditation intervention on neural measures of response inhibition in cigarette smokers. PLoS One, 13(1), e0191661. Scholar
  9. Bartlett, F. C. (1932). Remembering, a study in experimental and social psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Bowen, S., & Marlatt, A. (2009). Surfing the urge: Brief mindfulness-based intervention for college student smokers. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 23(4), 666–671. Scholar
  11. Brewer, J. A., Mallik, S., Babuscio, T. A., Nich, C., Johnson, H. E., Deleone, C. M., Minnix-Cotton, C. A., Byrne, S. A., Kober, H., Weinstein, A. J., Carrol, K. M., & Rounsaville, B. J. (2011). Mindfulness training for smoking cessation: results from a randomized controlled trial. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 119(1/2), 72–80. Scholar
  12. Brewer, J. A. (2018). Feeling is believing: the convergence of Buddhist theory and modern scientific evidence supporting how self is formed and perpetuated through feeling tone (vedanā). Contemporary Buddhism, 19(1), 113–126. Scholar
  13. Caillies, S., Denhière, G., & Kintsch, W. (2002). The effect of prior knowledge on understanding from text: evidence from primed recognition. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 14(2), 267–286. Scholar
  14. Carpenter, D. (1992). Ritual and society: reflections on the authority of the Veda in India. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 60(1), 57–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Carsley, D., Khoury, B., & Heath, N. L. (2018). Effectiveness of mindfulness interventions for mental health in schools: a comprehensive meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 9, 693–707. Scholar
  16. Davis, J. M., Mills, D. M., Stankevitz, K. A., Manley, A. R., Majeskie, M. R., & Smith, S. S. (2013). Pilot randomized trial on mindfulness training for smokers in young adult binge drinkers. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 13(215), 1–10. Scholar
  17. Davis, J. M., Goldberg, S. B., Anderson, M. C., Manley, A. R., Smith, S. S., & Baker, T. B. (2014a). Randomized trial on mindfulness training for smokers targeted to a disadvantaged population. Substance Use & Misuse, 49(5), 571–585. Scholar
  18. Davis, J. M., Manley, A. R., Goldberg, S. B., Smith, S. S., & Jorenby, D. E. (2014b). Randomized trial comparing mindfulness training for smokers to a matched control. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 47(3), 213–221. Scholar
  19. Davis, J. M., Goldberg, S. B., Angel, K. S., Silver, R. H., Kragel, E. A., & Lagrew, D. J. (2017). Observational study on a mindfulness training for smokers within a smoking cessation program. Mindfulness, 8, 1689–1698. Scholar
  20. Elwafi, H. M., Witkiewitz, K., Mallik, S., Thornhill, T. A., & Brewer, J. A. (2013). Mindfulness training for smoking cessation: moderation of the relationship between craving and cigarette use. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 130(1–3), 222–229. Scholar
  21. Felver, J. C., Celis-de Hoyos, C. E., Tezanos, K., & Singh, N. N. (2016). A systematic review of mindfulness-based interventions for youth in school settings. Mindfulness, 7, 34–45. Scholar
  22. Garrison, K. A., Pal, P., O’Malley, S. S., Pittman, B. P., Gueorguieva, R., Rojiani, R., Scheinost, D., Dallery, J., & Brewer, J. A. (2018). Craving to quit: a randomized controlled trial of smartphone app–based mindfulness training for smoking cessation. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 1–8.
  23. Gethin, R. (1992). The Buddhist path to awakening, a study of the bodhi-pakkhiyā dhammā. Leiden: Brill.Google Scholar
  24. Hwang, Y.-S., Bartlett, B., Greben, M., & Han, K. (2017). A systematic review of mindfulness interventions for in-service teachers: a tool to enhance teacher wellbeing and performance. Teaching and Teacher Education, 64, 26–42. Scholar
  25. McKeering, P., & Hwang, Y.-S. (2018). A systematic review of mindfulness-based school interventions with early adolescents. Mindfulness, 9.
  26. McClain, L. (2017). Pilot randomized controlled trial of smartphone-delivered daily brief mindfulness practice for young adult smokers uninterested in quitting. Thesis. New York: Fordham University.Google Scholar
  27. Minami, H., Brinkman, H. R., Nahvi, S., Arnsten, J. H., Rivera-Mindt, M., Wetter, D. W., Bloom, E. L., Price, L. H., Vieira, C., Donnelly, R., McClain, L. M., Kennedy, K. A., D’Aquila, E., Fine, M., McCarthy, D. E., Thomas, J. G., Hecht, J., & Brown, R. A. (2018). Rationale, design and pilot feasibility results of a smartphone-assisted, mindfulness-based intervention for smokers with mood disorders: project mSMART MIND. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 66, 36–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Monier-Williams, M. (1899/1999). A Sanskrit-English dictionary, etymologically and philologically arranged, with special reference to cognate Indo-European languages. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.Google Scholar
  29. Pino, O., Girolami, A., & Giucastro, G. (2018). Mindful attention awareness as a predictor of smoking quitting in nicotine cessation treatment: preliminary data from a pilot study. EC Psychology and Psychiatry, 7(4), 162–168.Google Scholar
  30. Rogojanski, J., Vettese, L. C., & Antony, M. M. (2011). Coping with cigarette cravings: comparison of suppression versus mindfulness-based strategies. Mindfulness, 2(1), 14–26. Scholar
  31. Ruscio, A. C., Muench, C., Brede, E., & Waters, A. J. (2015). Effect of brief mindfulness practice on self-reported affect, craving, and smoking: a pilot randomized controlled trial using ecological momentary assessment. Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 18(1), 64–73. Scholar
  32. Scarlett, C. A. (2018). Qualitative study of a mindfulness-based smoking cessation treatment among racially/ethnically diverse adults. Thesis. Atlanta: School of Public Health, Georgia State University.Google Scholar
  33. Semple, R. J., Droutman, V., & Brittany, A. R. (2017). Mindfulness goes to school: things learned (so far) from research and real-world experience. Psychology in the Schools, 54(1), 29–52. Scholar
  34. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Winton, A. S. W., Karazsia, B. T., Singh, A. D. A., Singh, A. N. A., & Singh, J. (2013). A mindfulness-based smoking cessation program for individuals with mild intellectual disability. Mindfulness, 4, 148–157. Scholar
  35. Singh, N. N., Lancioni, G. E., Myers, R. E., Karazsia, B. T., Winton, A. S. W., & Singh, J. (2014). A randomized controlled trial of a mindfulness-based smoking cessation program for individuals with mild intellectual disability. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 12(2), 153–168. Scholar
  36. Smith, B. K. (1986). Ritual, knowledge, and being, initiation and Veda study in ancient India. Numen, 33(1), 65–89.Google Scholar
  37. Vidrine, J. I., Businelle, M. S., Reitzel, L. R., Cao, Y., Cinciripini, P. M., Marcus, M. T., Li, Y., & Wetter, D. W. (2015). Coping mediates the association of mindfulness with psychological stress, affect, and depression among smokers preparing to quit. Mindfulness, 6, 433–443. Scholar
  38. Vidrine, J. I., Spears, C. A., Heppner, W. L., Reitzel, L. R., Marcus, M. T., Cinciripini, P. M., Waters, A. J., Li, Y., Nguyen, N., Cao, Y., Tindle, H. A., Fine, M., Safranek, L. V., & Wetter, D. W. (2016). Efficacy of mindfulness-based addiction treatment (MBAT) for smoking cessation and lapse recovery: a randomized clinical trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 84(9), 824–838. Scholar
  39. von Hinüber, O. (1989). Der Beginn der Schrift und frühe Schriftlichkeit in Indien. Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner.Google Scholar
  40. Westbrook, C., Creswell, J. D., Tabibnia, G., Julson, E., Kober, H., & Tindle, H. A. (2013). Mindful attention reduces neural and self-reported cue-induced craving in smokers. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 8(1), 73–84. Scholar
  41. Zenner, C., Herrnleben-Kurz, S., & Walach, H. (2014). Mindfulness-based interventions in schools—a systematic review and meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(603), 1–20. Scholar
  42. Zoogman, S., Goldberg, S. B., Hoyt, W. T., & Miller, L. (2015). Mindfulness interventions with youth: a meta-analysis. Mindfulness, 6, 290–302. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Barre Center for Buddhist StudiesBarreUSA

Personalised recommendations