The Mindfulness Conspiracy

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Rick
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The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Rick » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:01 pm

An interesting article from The Guardian about the cult of mindfulness thwarting activism:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... irituality
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...

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Nemo
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Nemo » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:27 pm

Buddha Lite, now only $1.49 per KG!

Is Caitlin Johnstone Kagyu? She certainly sound Kagyu.

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justsit
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by justsit » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:44 pm

Nemo wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:27 pm
Is Caitlin Johnstone Kagyu? She certainly sound Kagyu.
Self-described as "Rogue journalist. Bogan socialist. Anarcho-psychonaut. Guerrilla poet. Utopia prepper." :rolleye:

Doesn't sound like any legit Kagyu folks I ever met.

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Wayfarer
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Wayfarer » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:31 pm

From the article:
anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary – it just helps people cope. In fact, it could also be making things worse. Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live. And yet mindfulness zealots believe that paying closer attention to the present moment without passing judgment has the revolutionary power to transform the whole world. It’s magical thinking on steroids.
This is almost identical to what Zizek has been saying about Buddhism for the last ten years - that it helps you to rationalise living in a consumer society, instead of agitating to change it. Kind of a ‘handmaiden of capitalism’.

I think the falsehood of this criticism is that it treats ‘mindfulness’ as an ideology, as it can only conceive of anything in ideological terms; it sees the world through those spectacles.

Not to say that the ‘consumerisation’ mindfulness is always beneficial. But I’m dubious about this criticism of it.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jun 14, 2019 11:09 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:31 pm
From the article:
anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary – it just helps people cope. In fact, it could also be making things worse. Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live. And yet mindfulness zealots believe that paying closer attention to the present moment without passing judgment has the revolutionary power to transform the whole world. It’s magical thinking on steroids.
This is almost identical to what Zizek has been saying about Buddhism for the last ten years - that it helps you to rationalise living in a consumer society, instead of agitating to change it. Kind of a ‘handmaiden of capitalism’.

I think the falsehood of this criticism is that it treats ‘mindfulness’ as an ideology, as it can only conceive of anything in ideological terms; it sees the world through those spectacles.

Not to say that the ‘consumerisation’ mindfulness is always beneficial. But I’m dubious about this criticism of it.
:good:

The basic criticisms here have some real merit, but this argument bothers me for a few reasons:

A lot of "activism" is terribly ineffective. A large number of people trying to change the world are doing a terrible job of it. That doesn't indicate we shouldn't try, but it does indicate that there is something wrong with the way we perceive "changing the world", and that a minority of people manage to. In that sense, the choice is less between doing nothing in a blissed out trance, and being an "activist", and more about having deep enough insight to pick battles well and actually create change. Some of the qualities required to "change things" (emotional intelligence as one example) can be extremely lacking in the domain of activism, and this lack affects capabilities, so we cannot entirely externalize problems either.

While "mindfulness" may discourage people from making changes, IMO there is very little indication that the "change" that a considerable number of people are attempting is particularly useful. Go spend some time in activism (at least this is what I find), and this is pretty obvious straight away.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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SonamTashi
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by SonamTashi » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:27 pm

There is an excerpt of Ecodharma: Buddhist Teachings for the Ecological Crisis by David Loy in the current issue of The Wisdom Journal that deals with almost exactly this issue. I'll share a few quotes that I think directly address the criticisms in this article.

...the bodhisattva acts without attachment to the results of the action. Aphorism 28 of the Tibetan lojong training offers a classic formulation: "Abandon any hope of fruition. Don't get caught up in how you will be in the future; stay in the present moment."

I refer to "spiritual activism" rather than Buddhist activism because this principle is also an essential aspect of karma yoga in the most important Hindu text, the Bhagavad Gita: "Your right is to the work, never to the fruits. Be neither motivated by the fruits of action nor inclined to give up action."

Yet acting without attachment is easily misunderstood, suggesting a casual attitude. "Yes, our local power company needs to convert from coal to renewables. We organized and protested for a while, but there was a lot of resistance. It just didn't work. But that's okay because what's important are the intentions behind our actions, not the results."
This is the mistake that arguments like the ones in the article make. But Loy shows that this misses the point:

...consider the difference between a marathon and a 100-meter dash. When you run a 100-meter race, the only thing that matters is sprinting to the goal as quickly as possible... But you can't run a marathon that way, because you'll soon exhaust yourself. Instead, you follow the course without fixating on the goal line somewhere far ahead. If you run in the right direction you will eventually get there...

This is a taste of what Daoists call wei wu wei--literally, "the action of nonaction..." This type of nonaction does not mean doing nothing. The runner does not give up and sit by the side of the road in the belief that there's really no need to go anywhere. Instead, the running is a kind of "nonrunning" inasmuch as one is not rejecting the present moment in favor of a goal that will be achieved sometime in the future. Nonetheless, one is approaching the goal because one is doing what is needed right now: just this!

...

practitioners daily recite the four "bodhisattva vows..." If we really understand what this commitment involves, how can we avoid feeling overwhelmed? We are vowing to do something that cannot possibly be accomplished...

That the vow cannot be fulfilled is not the problem but the very point... what the vow really calls for is reorienting the meaning of one's life, from our usual self-pre-occupation to primary concern for the well-being of everyone... what becomes important is not the unattainable goal but the direction of one's efforts--a direction that in this case orients us without providing an endpoint. What does that imply about how we respond to the eco-crisis? Someone who has already volunteered for a job that is literally impossible is not going to be intimidated by challenges because they sometimes appear hopeless!
Articles such as the above are missing all of this added context that makes mindfulness and Buddhist practice so powerful. However, I do think they are right to an extent if you apply their argument mainly to McMindfulness. I don't think it can be denied that businesses, schools and Capitalism in general have misused mindfulness as a tool to manipulate workers in order to boost productivity. But I think this is a natural result of stripping mindfulness from its spiritual roots in a Capitalist context. For the reasons in Loy's article, I think Buddhism and mindfulness can actually be good models for activism, climate change or otherwise.
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SonamTashi
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by SonamTashi » Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:16 pm

By the way, this is :offtopic: but in case anyone doesn't know, Wisdom Publications offers the Wisdom Journal for free as a seasonal publication. It contains excerpts from their books, and it is usually a really good read, offering insights from many different Buddhist traditions.
https://www.wisdompubs.org/subscribe-wisdom-journal
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Nemo
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Nemo » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:44 pm

Shamatha and vippasana give very real insights into the nature of the narratives we call reality. They undoubtedly makes them more pliable over time. It can give someone breathing space when they are overwhelmed. The problem being without a good teacher people just make different narratives they like slightly better. Dharma is not about self improvement. Do you really think crafting a better narrative will free you from Samsara?

The world of narrative is controlled by the rich and powerful now. Almost everyone has drank the poison of materialism, just as Padmasambhava predicted. He also predicted more than 50% would be under the influence of demons with minds not fully under their own control.

The problems in the article are much the same as the problems with psychology. Curing symptoms while ignoring their cause quite deliberately for fame and recognition.

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Wayfarer
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Wayfarer » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:12 am

SonamTashi wrote:I think this is a natural result of stripping mindfulness from its spiritual roots in a Capitalist context. For the reasons in Loy's article, I think Buddhism and mindfulness can actually be good models for activism, climate change or otherwise.
:good:

Excellent post! David Loy had a workshop in my city just last week but unfortunately I noticed too late by when it was booked out. But he's an important voice in this discussion, because he provides exactly the right perspective by which to understand it.
'Only practice with no gaining idea' ~ Suzuki Roshi

Felasco
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Felasco » Tue Jun 18, 2019 1:58 pm

Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live.
It seems useful here to ask how happy rich people are in comparison to the rest of us. The richest person I've ever known became a life long drug addict. As a group, we middle class type folks are the richest people in human history, far exceeding what most of our ancestors could have dreamed of. And yet we have all kinds of personal problems. There does seem to be a limit to what can be achieved with political and economic frameworks. That said, I'm all for a Bernie Sanders type vision of creating a more middle class society with less inequality.
And yet mindfulness zealots believe that paying closer attention to the present moment without passing judgment has the revolutionary power to transform the whole world. It’s magical thinking on steroids.
Well, yea, ok, there is a considerable amount of magical thinking in the mindfulness community, that's true. This seems most likely to happen as users leap from mindfulness, to explanations of mindfulness. Explanations of any kind are an easy target for ego take overs. An example comes to mind...

We probably rarely hear from the best Christians, because they are too busy running an ebola clinic in the Congo to have the time to write sermons and give speeches etc. The Christians we are most likely to hear from are those trying to talk themselves in to being Christians by sharing lots of sermons.

A similar kind of process seems to effect the mindfulness community too. Sometimes I think I may have made more noise about silence than anybody on the Internuts... :-) HEY EVERYBODY, LOOK OVER HERE, AT ME, BECAUSE WHAT I'M SAYING ABOUT THE NEED FOR US TO BE SILENT IS VERY IMPORTANT!!!!

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Nemo
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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Nemo » Tue Jun 18, 2019 4:14 pm

https://tuttejiorg.wordpress.com/2016/0 ... ngagement/

Why are so many employees disengaged?

The answer most often lies in a lack of mindfulness. A recent national study by Dale Carnegie Training placed the number of “fully engaged” employees at 29%, and “disengaged” employees at 26% – meaning nearly three-quarters of employees are not fully engaged (aka productive). The number one factor the study cited influencing engagement and disengagement was “relevant mindfulness training”. While this is no surprise to those in the business (and we all intuitively know that employees’ degree of mindfulness has a major impact on their feelings about work), my interest in this book is not to delve into this recent study – but to probe into why mindful management is so chronically problematic.

At enormous costs, it’s worth noting: The Bureau of National Affairs estimates U.S. businesses lose $11 billion annually due to employee turnover.

Why are these costly problems so persistent? My premise in this book is that the qualities companies traditionally look for when selecting mindfulness instructors and programs are often not conducive to forming positive, productive, renewable, and engaged employees.

When companies are concerned about turnover, productivity, and chronically high levels of employee disengagement, they need to look thoughtfully at how they’re selecting and training their mindfulness programs.

They need to look thoughtfully at the type of people they’re placing in these critical roles, and how they relate to others. This is the fabric of day-to-day business life. This is the thread from which the cloth is made. And this is why corporate mindfulness instructors soon will be out of work – unless they upgrade their toolbox and learn how to respond to needs of an increasingly challenging market.

To illustrate some of the challenges facing the contemporary mindfulness instructor, let’s consider some examples from my own experience.

As a relatively new corporate mindfulness instructor, I was told on numerous occasions by senior management, “You just don’t seem like a mindfulness teacher. You just don’t seem like an embodiment of wisdom and equanimity.”

When I’d ask why, the answer would always be something along the lines of: “I don’t know… you just seem too cynical and manipulative, too much like one of us.”

To which I’d generally respond, “Don’t judge my personality – judge results. Do I make your employees more productive? Am I able to deliver successfully?”

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Re: The Mindfulness Conspiracy

Post by Queequeg » Tue Jun 18, 2019 5:17 pm

Tune in, turn on, drop out.

Actually, dropping out is one of the most revolutionary things you can do.

I went on an annual Father's Day Weekend fishing trip with some usual suspects... one of them is what I'd call a Mandarin - works in politics in a high profile job trying to make civil society work. I was explaining the ideal of the drop out and he could not grok how that is a good idea, at all. "What good is there in the most brilliant people in a society dropping out and disengaging from society?" I acknowledged his concern, pointing out that the downfall of the Shakya clan may well have been due to the fact that all the most able young men joined their uncle Gautama's sravaka order. But I pointed out that those dropouts are aiming higher than getting society working smoothly and beneficially for as many people as possible, though that is an admirable aim. I pointed out, with a big grin, they're aiming to conquer death! That of course fell flat as expected. A Mandarin is not on that bus, can't grok that bus, sees that bus as a threat to his goal of the well ordered and just society he envisions, where everyone contributes.

It was asked, how a drop out justifies their decision. I pointed out that, in ordinary, non specialized terms, that the problems of samsara are endless, and that one of the first things a drop out resolves is, "the minute and myriad problems of samsara are not mine". "Household life is confining, a dusty path. The life gone forth is like the open air."

Going forth is neither acceptance or rejection of the concerns of the protester in the street. Its just abandoned along with the provocation that brings the protester out.

Anyway, this is the government minister's concern with the drop out. For the drop out... :shrug:
Those who, even with distracted minds,
Entered a stupa compound
And chanted but once, “Namo Buddhaya!”
Have certainly attained the path of the buddhas.

-Lotus Sutra, Expedient Means Chapter

There are beings with little dust in their eyes who are falling away because they do not hear the Dhamma. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
-Ayacana Sutta

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