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Mindfulness (Pali sati; Skt. smṛti; Tib. དྲན་པ་, drenpa, Wyl. dran pa) is one of the fifty-one mental states defined in Abhidharma literature. According to the Compendium of Abhidharma, it belongs to the subgroup of the five object-determining mental states.

Mindfulness is also the fifth antidote of the eight antidotes to the five faults in meditation practice. It’s the antidote to the second fault, forgetting the instructions or the object of focus.


In the Khenjuk, Mipham Rinpoche says:

  • Tib. དྲན་པ་ནི་འདྲིས་པའི་དོན་མི་བརྗེད་པ་མི་གཡེང་བའི་ལས་ཅན་ནོ།
  • Mindfulness is not to forget a familiar object. Its function is to prevent distraction. (Rigpa Translations)
  • Recollection means not forgetting a known object. Its function is to inhibit distraction. (Erik Pema Kunsang)

In terms of shamatha meditation, you could say that mindfulness protects and maintains the 'remaining' or stillness (Tib. གནས་པ་, népa) of mind, so you do not become distracted from it.

In the practice of maintaining discipline, mindfulness is defined as "not forgetting what should be adopted and abandoned."


In the Mahamudra teachings, there are said to be four kinds of mindfulness:

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  • deliberate mindfulness (Tib. རྩོལ་བཅས་ཀྱི་དྲན་པ་, tsol ché kyi drenpa, Wyl. rtsol bcas kyi dran pa)
  • effortless mindfulness (Tib. རྩོལ་མེད་ཀྱི་དྲན་པ་, tsol mé kyi drenpa, Wyl. rtsol med kyi dran pa)
  • genuine mindfulness (Tib. ཡང་དག་པའི་དྲན་པ་, yangdakpé drenpa, Wyl. yang dag pa'i dran pa)
  • supreme king-like mindfulness (Tib. དྲན་མཆོག་རྒྱལ་པོ་, dren chok gyalpo, Wyl. dran mchog rgyal po)

Alternative Translations

Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

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