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It’s important to remember that mindfulness is merely a word in the English language. As such, its meaning has evolved through time and it may denote different things in different circumstances.

When speaking of non-Western cultures, it is common to distinguish the pre-contact situation from the postcontact situation. Contact, in this case, refers to interaction with modern Europeans.

Here’s an example. Before contact with Western ideas, the Japanese word kami referred to the local Shinto god(s). Contact with Abrahamic religions caused a semantic broadening. Kami can still refer to a particular Shinto god, but it can also stand for the Western monotheistic notion of God/Deus/Elohim.

Click the link below to access this full article on Shinzen’s website.


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