Understanding mindfulness: Current epistemological, methodological, and ethical issues

Gerald Virtbauer, Sarah Shaw


This paper reflects on current discussions about the meeting of Buddhism and Western psychology in the field of mindfulness from the perspective of Buddhist psychology (BP). The epistemology and methodology of BP and Western clinical psychology differ significantly. The first-person Buddhist and the third-person scientific approaches to understanding and evidencing mindfulness appear to be irreconcilable. However, BP and Buddhist ethics provide frameworks with which contemporary scientific research can be scrutinised. Such scrutiny can provide new perspectives on psychological and ethical shortcomings of modern Western scientific epistemology and methodology. BP is the foundation for the Western science of mindfulness. It is argued that BP could play a more important role in the training of scientists in mindfulness. By bridging Buddhist and Western psychology in the science of mindfulness, it appears to be possible to initiate critical psychological and ethical reflection of how modern Western science approaches, constructs, and conditions the world and its inhabitants. Such reflection, and consequent mindful scientific changes, could be of invaluable use in reducing the suffering of sentient beings in this world.


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DOI: 10.15135/2017.5.2.22-49