Aimlessness (Buddhism)

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Aimlessness or uncommittedness or wishlessness (Sanskrit apraṇihita अप्रणिहित) is a form of "concentration" in some schools of Buddhist meditation. The concept is particularly associated with the teachings of Thích Nhất Hạnh, who counts aimlessness as the third form of "concentration" or "Third Door of Liberation".[1][2][3] The term apraṇihita literally means 'to place nothing in front' and is used to designate someone who has no aims for the future and no desire for the objects of perception.[4]

Aimless wandering[edit]

Aimless wandering refers to both "samsara" (the cycle of birth, death and rebirth) and a mindfulness practice of exploration without destination that often takes the form of a walking meditation (though it does not require movement). In this practice, attention is paid to one's sensory perception of the experience rather than one's thoughts about the experience.


  1. ^ Thich Nhat Hanh, Rachel Neumann Buddha Mind, Buddha Body 1427092923 2008 Page 140 "AIMLESSNESS The third concentration is aimlessness, apraṇihita. Without worry, without anxiety we are free to enjoy each moment of our lives. Not trying, not making great efforts, just being. What a joy! This seems to contradict our normal ..."
  2. ^ You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment - Page 104 Thich Nhat Hanh, Sherab Chodzin Kohn, Melvin McLeod - 2012 - "Aimlessness is a form of concentration, one of three practices of deep looking recommended by the Buddha. The other two are concentration on the absence of distinguishing signs (alakshana) and concentration on emptiness (sunyata)."
  3. ^ Minh Thanh Communicative English for Buddhism 0557091608 2009 Page 319 "Aimlessness is stopping and realizing the happiness that is already available. If someone asks us how long he has to practice in order to be happy, we can tell him that he can be happy right now! The practice of apranahita, aimlessness, is the .."
  4. ^ Dan Lusthaus Buddhist Phenomenology: A Philosophical Investigation 2014 Page 266 "Sangharakshita translates apraṇihita as 'Aimlessness,' while Conze uses 'Wishless', and writes in Buddhist Thought in India (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1967) p. 67: "The word a-pra-ni—hita means literally that one 'places nothing in front' and it designates someone who makes no plans for the future, has no hopes for it, who is aimless, not bent on anything, without predilection or desire for the objects of perception rejected by the concentration on the Signless [animitta]."

Further reading[edit]

  • Buddharakkhita, T. (1996). The Dhammapada: The Buddha's Path of Wisdom. Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 955-24-0131-3
  • Fowler, M. (2005). Zen Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices. Sussex Academic Press. ISBN 1-902210-42-5
  • Clement, S. (2002). Meditation for Beginners: Techniques for Awareness, Mindfulness & Relaxation. Llewellyn Publications. ISBN 0-7387-0203-X
  • Midal, F. (2005). Recalling Chögyam Trungpa. Shambhala Publications. ISBN 1-59030-207-9