Prof. Rupert Gethin

Mindfulness, Meditation and Therapy

The term 'mindfulness' has recently become commonplace in the context of contemporary forms of psychotherapy such as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. In the psychotherapeutic context reference to the Buddhist origin of mindfulness is often made. But to what extent does the psychotherapeutic use of mindfulness constitute a continuity with traditional Buddhist practices?


My paper will consider the traditional Buddhist understanding of mindfulness and its role in the framework of the Buddhist path alongside the modern psychotherapeutic understanding of mindfulness and its role within a psychotherapeutic framework. To what extent are there simple continuities between Buddhist and psychotherapeutic mindfulness, and what is the significance of replacing a Buddhist framework with a contemporary western psychotherapeutic framework?

Prof. Rupert Gethin

is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol where he teaches courses in Indian religions. His doctoral dissertation on the theory of meditation in the Pali Nikayas and Buddhist systematic thought was published under the title The Buddhist Path to Awakening in 1992.


In addition he has published a number of articles on aspects of Pali literature and the psychology and philosophy of Theravada Buddhist systematic thought (abhidhamma), as well as an English translation (with R. P. Wijeratne) of a Pali commentary to a traditional textbook of Abhidhamma, Exposition of the Topics of Abhdihamma (2002) and an introduction to Buddhist thought and practice, The Foundations of Buddhism (1998). Since 2003 he has been President of the Pali Text Society, and in 2008 he was Numata Visiting Professor of Buddhist Studies at UC Berkeley.