Many years ago when I visited Italy, I met a Catholic priest who organized a public talk for me. We had time to talk with each other, and I asked him this question: “My friend, what is the Holy Spirit to you?” And he said that the Holy Spirit is the energy of God, sent by God to us. I thought that expression is beautiful, and as a Buddhist practitioner I can accept it very easily.
The Holy Spirit is the kind of energy that helps you to be compassionate, to be healed of your ill being. I think Catholics and Protestants would agree about that: the Holy Spirit is the agent of healing, of transformation, of joy, of being there.
In Buddhist circles, we say very much the same thing to describe mindfulness. To us, mindfulness is the energy that can help us to be there, in the here and the now. Mindfulness helps us to be alive, and since we are there, we are capable of touching life deeply, of understanding, of accepting, of loving. If we continue to develop that energy of understanding and loving, then we will get the healing and transformation that we need. That is why the Holy Spirit is exactly what we call the energy of mindfulness.
I can say that a Buddha or a bodhisattva is someone who is made of the energy of mindfulness. Each of us has a seed of mindfulness within ourselves. If we practice walking, sitting, smiling, breathing, eating, doing things every day with mindfulness, we help that seed of mindfulness in us to grow, and it will generate that energy of mindfulness that helps us to be alive, fully present in the here and the now, helping us to understand, to accept, forgive, and to love, to be healed. That is why it is correct to say that the energy of mindfulness is the energy of a Buddha, of a bodhisattva.
We have that energy in ourselves, and if we know how to practice, we can generate that energy from within. To me, the expressions “Holy Spirit” and “Mindfulness” both point to the same thing—something that is very concrete, that is available us in the here and the now, and not just an idea, a notion.