Corporate "Mindfulness".

Discuss the application of the Dharma to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice.
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Johnny Dangerous
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Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:28 am

I have very neutral feelings towards "engaged Buddhism" in the West generally. I can see arguments for and against it, and some of what counts as engaged Buddhism in America is, well...maybe naive.

One thing that occurred to me though, is that eventually "engaged Buddhists" (of any stripe, really..maybe even just politically aware Buddhists) in developed countries are going to come up against corporate culture, and it's co-opting of mindfulness as some sort of employee placation tool, among other things. I'll be curious to see how Buddhist leaders of the future deal with this sort of thing. As an example, all the big tech companies (many of whom are frankly ethically disgraceful on a number of levels) have "mindfulness" initiatives, and seem to be moving towards this sort of corporate culture that is friendly with "Buddhism Lite", if it can even be appropriately called that.

I wonder, what do people think is the correct position for leaders, practitioners, and anyone else to take on this sort of thing?
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Dan74 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:07 am

On a positive side I can imagine in a few case where mindfulness will lead people to the Dharma and real change can be effected.

Some time ago, a guy I know asked me for materials to learn meditation. I passed a few things on to him. Some time later when I tried to follow up, he said "I'm not interested in enlightenment, I just wanted to utilise my time at work better."

I guess at the end of the day, it is good to help people where we can, even when this help is very 'incomplete'.

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:19 am

Dan74 wrote:On a positive side I can imagine in a few case where mindfulness will lead people to the Dharma and real change can be effected.

Some time ago, a guy I know asked me for materials to learn meditation. I passed a few things on to him. Some time later when I tried to follow up, he said "I'm not interested in enlightenment, I just wanted to utilise my time at work better."

I guess at the end of the day, it is good to help people where we can, even when this help is very 'incomplete'.
Maybe a pointed way of me asking the question is: is the Dharma meant to be employed as a tool to help people make more iPhones? I'm not saying tech companies (as one example here) are evil incarnate or anything, but the truth is that corporate culture of many of the places emphasizes a hyper-materialistic outlook, and is part of a very ethically questionable "lifestyle maintenance routine" for us first-worlders. Boy that was too wordy, hope you get the point though.. That's without even touching the myriad ethical failings of large corporations in today's world.

So what i'm wondering is, in this kind of environment, what do 'engaged Buddhists' think is skillful means in such situations? I know that I have read talks given at these places and various conferences by famous Lamas and teachers that hit all the right points ("inner development" being neglected..having responsibility, improved material existence being an incomplete goal, etc.) I wonder though, if there is any getting through in this kind of environment...or if it's culture of appropriation just gonna scarf up Dharma teachings like it did with Yoga.

I keep wondering, what is the dividing line between skilfully helping someone, as in the situation you mention...and enabling them to continue questionable behavior further enabled by "mindfulness".
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Dan74 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:26 am

I keep wondering, what is the dividing line between skilfully helping someone, as in the situation you mention...and enabling them to continue questionable behavior further enabled by "mindfulness".
I understood your question and I think the dividing line will depend on the situation and what you are asked to do.

Do you think it is right to teach mindfulness divorced from the rest of the Dharma? What if it helps alleviate stress and people treat themselves and each other better as a result?

Do you think it is right to tone down ethical teachings and just focus on mental training when the aim is to improve productivity? What if the corporation is producing valuable goods or services and treats the employees well?

I am playing a devil's advocate here - I have plenty of reservations myself, but I think the Dharma of the Mahayana is clearly to engage everyone skillfully, rather than confine itself to the hermits and saints.

What that skillful engagement constitutes is the core of your question, right? And I guess it will depend on the situation. My sense is that if mindfulness is of the broad kind, not the narrow "concentrate on anything you want, be the best worker, the best killer, etc" type, then it is beneficial long term, because it will help wisdom grow.

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:42 am

Actually, I have no problem at all with mindfulness as therapy for those that benefit..in fact, I'm going into the mental health field, and plan on making use of that sort of thing when appropriate. It's not just that it's divorced from dharma, but that in se cases the culture it's being used in seems antithetical to Dharma.

Perhaps that's all the more reason it should be there, I don't know.
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Mkoll » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:56 am

Dan74 wrote:Some time ago, a guy I know asked me for materials to learn meditation. I passed a few things on to him. Some time later when I tried to follow up, he said "I'm not interested in enlightenment, I just wanted to utilise my time at work better."
Still, who knows what enlightening-leading seeds you've sown in his mindstream? "Some good may come of it," as they say. :)
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Ayu » Thu Mar 19, 2015 8:20 am

A non-buddhist friend has many psychic problems and she tried all alternative remedies from Yoga, sports, laughing-therapy or whatever. Everything. She ended up with mindfulness training and she is very content about this method. It helps her to be more peaceful and settled. For her it is only a side-effect that she doesn't need to stay at home, sick, but is able to work. The main effect is her satisfaction.

There is a German Author, Hans Korfmacher, who was manager of a business. He combines buddhism, ethics and entrepreneurial spirit in his first book: http://www.tsongkang.de/product_info.ph ... ismus.html (Unfortunatly these revolutionary theories are not available in English yet.)
His thesis is that not the fight was the factor to make humanity successful, but rather the ability to cooperate.

Modern managers experienced already that a satisfied employee can do better work, and that this satisfaction is not only about cash.
So applying the idea of mindfulness to modern working environment must not be a symptom of exploitation but rather can be a sign of better living circumstances for the employees. IMO from Europe. I don't know what american employers would create out of this idea.
Maybe it is possible to abuse every good thing.
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Kaccāni » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:25 am

Well. The main difference between "real" mindfulness and "corporate mindfulness" is yet another illusion. The illusion behind corporate mindfulness is that after practicing mindfulness, employees will be more aware, but at the same time follow corporate governance with less resistance. That's a hierarchical understanding of mindfulness. Governance and compliance stem from morals and go along with hierarchical thinking. Mindfulness practiced for liberation is at the other end of the cognitive axis, it is beyond rules. If collaboration happens within this mindset, governance is rather neglected, it happens out of completely different motives that concern human well-being and liberation, not processes or appeasing hierarchies. Maybe a bit like the Confucious <-> Lao Tse dispute, with a slightly different ontology.

Most people who try to apply mindfulness to organizations fail to see this contradiction and handle mindfulness as some kind of superior relaxation technique that creates super humans who more easily do what others command them to do.

I've written a blog post on four different definitions of "agile", following the same four epistemologies, as this term is controversely discussed in IT industry. It shows the same cognitive filters by the respective people who discuss it, and you can transfer the mindsets described in the article to create four definitions of "mindfulness" from these respective views: http://www.psycheleon.com/2015/03/four- ... agile.html

In my personal experience, it helps to mobilize the mind to take on these different points of view, or at least try to, so at a point they can become available and come naturally to you.

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Wayfarer » Thu Mar 19, 2015 11:17 am

This question was subject of a talk at my last dharma group meeting. Many of the same reservations were expressed but as someone pointed out 'the ship has sailed'; 'mindfulness' is a big topic and it's out there, with books, consultants, and prominent representatives. They have mindfulness teachings in the UK Parliament. (Being a documentation guy, I couldn't help wondering what the documentation looked like.)

Overall, I think it's a good thing. The speaker at our group mentioned a US congressman, Tim Ryan, who has written a book on mindfulness (here) - and I have to say he seems a beacon of sanity in the US political system. If 'mindfulness' is always doing everything with clear awareness, then it is hard to fault it.

Sure people can put anything to the wrong ends - but then, if they're really aware of what they're doing, will they?

The other thing I pointed out was that in the 60's, when the Beatles discovered Transcendental Meditation (I originally typed ™ and the browser put it in superscript, ain't that neat?), a doctor called Herbert Benson became enthusiastic about it and wrote a book called The Relaxation Response, which sold millions of copies and 'mainstreamed' Transcendental Meditation to Middle America. And I don't think that was necessarily a bad thing, either.
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by seeker242 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 12:13 pm

Seems to me corporate mindfulness is essentially "Bompu Zen".
THE FIVE VARIETIES OF ZEN
The first of these types is called bompu, or "ordinary," Zen as opposed to the other four, each of which can be thought of as a special kind of Zen suitable for the particular aims of different individuals. Bompu Zen, being free from any philosophic or religious content, is for anybody and everybody. It is a Zen practiced purely in the belief that it can improve both physical and mental health. Since it can almost certainly have no ill effects, anyone can undertake it, whatever religious beliefs he happens to hold or if he holds none at all. Bompu Zen is bound to eliminate sickness of a psychosomatic nature and to improve the health generally.

Through the practice of bompu Zen you learn to concentrate and control your mind. It never occurs to most people to try to control their minds, and unfortunately this basic training is left out of contemporary education, not being part of what is called the acquisition of knowledge. Yet without it what we learn is difficult to retain because we learn it improperly, wasting much energy in the process. Indeed, we are virtually crippled unless we know how to restrain our thoughts and concentrate our minds. Furthermore, by practicing this very excellent mode of mind training you will find yourself increasingly able to resist temptations to which you had previously succumbed, and to sever attachments which had long held you in bondage. An enrichment in personality and a strengthening of character inevitably follow since the three basic elements of mind - that is, intellect, feeling, and will - develop harmoniously. The quietist sitting practiced in Confucianism seems to have stressed mainly these effects of mind concentration. However, the fact remains that bompu Zen, although far more beneficial for the cultivation of the mind than the reading of countless books on ethics and philosophy, is unable to resolve the fundamental problem of man and his relation to the universe. Why? Because it cannot pierce the ordinary man's basic delusion of himself as distinctly other than the universe.


"Bompu Zen is bound to eliminate sickness of a psychosomatic nature and to improve the health generally."

I don't see anything wrong with that at all. Bompu Zen has been around for a long time. Does not seem like some new thing, it's just being called a different name now, "mindfulness". It's not the dharma, but it's not a negative thing either. The idea that corporations are just using it to create a drone workforce to get people to obey them, sounds more like a conspiracy theory than anything else.
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu Mar 19, 2015 6:30 pm

I didn say they were 'creating drones', that's a strawman if I ever heard one. What I was saying is that many large companies are employing mindfulness to (among other things) invrease productivity...that is simply true, not conspiracies, and IMO it is, or could be contrary to the purpose of mindfulness in a dharmic sense.
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by seeker242 » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:48 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I didn say they were 'creating drones', that's a strawman if I ever heard one. What I was saying is that many large companies are employing mindfulness to (among other things) invrease productivity...that is simply true, not conspiracies, and IMO it is, or could be contrary to the purpose of mindfulness in a dharmic sense.

I didn't say you were the one saying "they are creating drones" but there are certainly people who believe that.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Malcolm » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:48 pm

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I didn say they were 'creating drones', that's a strawman if I ever heard one. What I was saying is that many large companies are employing mindfulness to (among other things) invrease productivity...that is simply true, not conspiracies, and IMO it is, or could be contrary to the purpose of mindfulness in a dharmic sense.
Yes, the mindfulness of a sniper is definitely counter the Dharma.
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-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Karma_Yeshe » Thu Mar 19, 2015 9:00 pm

seeker242 wrote: I don't see anything wrong with that at all. Bompu Zen has been around for a long time. Does not seem like some new thing, it's just being called a different name now, "mindfulness". It's not the dharma, but it's not a negative thing either.
If it (=Bompu Zen or "mindfulness") is not the dharma, it is not liberating from samsara. If it is not liberating from samsara, there is something fundamentally wrong with it imo.

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by dreambow » Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:45 am

I have no doubt that large companies are using 'mindfulness' to increase productivity and insure workers are more compliant in the former of 'team players'. Profits are the driving force underlying all corporate activity.

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Sherlock » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:06 pm

I don't care as long as they don't clakm to be Buddhist. They are Carvakas basically.

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by boda » Mon Mar 30, 2015 3:06 am

Dan74 wrote:Do you think it is right to teach mindfulness divorced from the rest of the Dharma? What if it helps alleviate stress and people treat themselves and each other better as a result?
That is apparently the best result any Buddhist can hope for. It's not like there's a lot (or any?) of enlightened folk walk'n around.

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by MrBlueSKY » Thu May 28, 2015 8:01 pm

To make sense of the future in regard to this corporate mindfulness thing, let's look backwards for a bit.

Let's look back at the Buddha's relationship with Ashoka.

From Wikipedia:
"In about 260 BCE Ashoka waged a bitterly destructive war against the state of Kalinga (modern Odisha). He conquered Kalinga, which none of his ancestors had done.He embraced Buddhism after witnessing the mass deaths of the Kalinga War, which he himself had waged out of a desire for conquest. "Ashoka reflected on the war in Kalinga, which reportedly had resulted in more than 100,000 deaths and 150,000 deportations." Ashoka converted gradually to Buddhism beginning about 263 BCE.He was later dedicated to the propagation of Buddhism across Asia, and established monuments marking several significant sites in the life of Gautama Buddha. "Ashoka regarded Buddhism as a doctrine that could serve as a cultural foundation for political unity."

The savagery and destruction of this war, leaving perhaps 100-150,000 dead, truned Ashoka away from a taste for war. Instead it appears he became a good Buddhist-albeit gradually over time.

".. his patronage led to the expansion of Buddhism in the Mauryan empire and other kingdoms during his rule, and worldwide from about 250 BCE"

So then if the bloodthirsty egomaniac Ashoka can employ Buddhism to save himself,assuage his guilt and consolidate the religious and political identity of his kingdom (to good end i believe), then is it really such a big deal that corporations use mindfulness to improve the working conditions of their employees?? Really...where is the problem ?

Buddhism has always been co-opted by local conditions, culture and contexts and been adapted as a result. "

There are 10,000 ways to suffer, so there must be 10,000 ways to end suffering". No ?

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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Thu May 28, 2015 8:12 pm

Right, but Ashoka embraced Buddhism, not generic 'mindfulness' to (for instance) be used to creat better soldiers, employees etc.
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Re: Corporate "Mindfulness".

Post by Malcolm » Thu May 28, 2015 8:24 pm

MrBlueSKY wrote:To make sense of the future in regard to this corporate mindfulness ....No ?
No, mindfulness is not Buddhadharma.
Buddhahood in This Life
འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔


[A]nything at all that is well spoken is the word of the Buddha.

-- Ārya-adhyāśaya-sañcodana-nāma-mahāyāna-sūtra

The different sūtras in accord with the emptiness
taught by the Sugata are definitive in meaning;
One can understand that all of those Dharmas in
which a sentient being, individual, or person are taught are provisional in meaning.

-- Samadhirāja Sūtra

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