The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

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The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by DGA » Tue Oct 28, 2014 4:59 pm

Full article here--it's definitely worth reading:

http://www.salon.com/2014/10/26/the_dan ... rituality/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'm reminded of books like "Awake at Work," "The Mindful Leader," "Mindful Leadership," "Wisdom 2.0," the meditation program at Google, and all the rest.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:41 pm

Good article, wish it was longer though.

I have some interest in this area as someone planning on going into the therapy field, it's a very fine line between genuine therapeutic use of meditation, and meditation as a therapeutic product, serving a complacent agenda..it seems.
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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by DGA » Tue Oct 28, 2014 8:32 pm

I like this distinction:

*Some practices are emancipatory. They function to aid someone in becoming less abound and more free.

*Some practices are compensatory. They function to aid someone in becoming better adapted to the situation that binds them--rather than making a break with their present patterns, such practitioners instead use means to make them better at being unfree (if that makes sense).

In the article, Zizek's old line about the ideology of late capital is made. That's basically a compensatory argument: people are using Jack Kornfield* TED talks to become better at what they already do, instead of being presented with the need to really become free from what binds them.


*and it's not just Kornfield.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Kim O'Hara » Tue Oct 28, 2014 10:38 pm

Jikan wrote:I like this distinction:

*Some practices are emancipatory. They function to aid someone in becoming less abound and more free.

*Some practices are compensatory. They function to aid someone in becoming better adapted to the situation that binds them--rather than making a break with their present patterns, such practitioners instead use means to make them better at being unfree (if that makes sense).

In the article, Zizek's old line about the ideology of late capital is made. That's basically a compensatory argument: people are using Jack Kornfield* TED talks to become better at what they already do, instead of being presented with the need to really become free from what binds them.


*and it's not just Kornfield.
Yes - good article, thanks, and I liked the quote from Zizek enough that I will stick it here for all the people who glance at the thread but don't click through to the article. :tongue:
“… although ‘Western Buddhism’ presents itself as the remedy against the stressful tension of capitalist dynamics, allowing us to uncouple and retain inner peace and Gelassenheit, it actually functions as its perfect ideological supplement … One is almost tempted to resuscitate the old infamous Marxist cliché of religion as the ‘opium of the people,’ as the imaginary supplement to terrestrial misery. The ‘Western Buddhist’ meditative stance is arguably the most efficient way for us to fully participate in capitalist dynamics while retaining the appearance of mental sanity … ”
In many respects, Capitalism, especially "corporate culture", is the problem that we should be subverting and opposing, so learning to get along happily with it is a sideways, if not a retrograde, step.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Paul » Tue Oct 28, 2014 10:54 pm

This is just another of the endless forms of the eight worldly concerns. They regularly take something that is of use for actual freedom and turn it into golden handcuffs.
Look at the unfathomable spinelessness of man: all the means he's been given to stay alert he uses, in the end, to ornament his sleep. – Rene Daumal
the modern mind has become so limited and single-visioned that it has lost touch with normal perception - John Michell

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Oct 29, 2014 7:26 pm

Jikan wrote:I like this distinction:

*Some practices are emancipatory. They function to aid someone in becoming less abound and more free.

*Some practices are compensatory. They function to aid someone in becoming better adapted to the situation that binds them--rather than making a break with their present patterns, such practitioners instead use means to make them better at being unfree (if that makes sense).

In the article, Zizek's old line about the ideology of late capital is made. That's basically a compensatory argument: people are using Jack Kornfield* TED talks to become better at what they already do, instead of being presented with the need to really become free from what binds them.


*and it's not just Kornfield.

This is true to a degree, the confounding thing though is sometimes people need compensatory stuff before they can hope to tackle emancipatory stuff. Not strictly related to the corporatism bit...but it is related simply to the idea of Dharma exported into a modern therapy form just to make people "feel better". Lots of people I think are interested and capable of doing things geared towards "feeling better", but can't or won't even think about emancipatory notions until they do feel better - so that's the framework that gets the most play.
In many respects, Capitalism, especially "corporate culture", is the problem that we should be subverting and opposing, so learning to get along happily with it is a sideways, if not a retrograde, step.
Agreed, but how? I actually think clinical application of mindfulness and similar trends are a good thing on some level, I just don't think they are good thing when they get used to basically bolster employee complacency, or screwy consumerist values lol, I find the drift from clinical mindfulness to these "harmony at work" notions really disturbing.
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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by DGA » Wed Oct 29, 2014 8:59 pm

Isn't that upaya, though? For instance, in recovery programs, addicts are often supplied with something else, something less harmful, to supplant their current drug of choice. In AA, the criticism goes at least, you're asked to trade the bottle for the Bible. The standard treatment for heroin addiction involves methadone, and it saves lives. Where's the line between compensatory and emancipatory here? Well, it depends how you understand upaya in my opinion.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Wed Oct 29, 2014 9:54 pm

Jikan wrote:Isn't that upaya, though? For instance, in recovery programs, addicts are often supplied with something else, something less harmful, to supplant their current drug of choice. In AA, the criticism goes at least, you're asked to trade the bottle for the Bible. The standard treatment for heroin addiction involves methadone, and it saves lives. Where's the line between compensatory and emancipatory here? Well, it depends how you understand upaya in my opinion.
Sure, of course it is.

Still makes for a difficult question though, because the thing that attracts many people to Buddhism in the west (therapeutic value, "mindfulness, feel good stuff what have you) is also the very thing that ends up limiting the parameters of how it can be presented to many people. It's really a head scratcher to me, and I have no answers lol. All I know is the corporate stuff based on worker increasing productivity and complacency really grosses me out. I admit to a sense of diminishing respect for some of the people who have chosen to be actively involved in those kinds of projects..despite appreciating some aspects of the therapeutic "mindfulness" movement they helped push forward in terms of treatment.
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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Qing Tian » Thu Oct 30, 2014 12:56 am

At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.
Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.
And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfilment.

You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.

And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?
In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes.

And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?
If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.
You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.
And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.
For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their own pride?
And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.
And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.
These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.
And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.
And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Kim O'Hara » Thu Oct 30, 2014 1:28 am

Very appropriate, Qing Tian, but can you give us the source?

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Qing Tian » Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:03 am

:oops:

It's actually by Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet

I thought the message was sufficient without the source, but happy to oblige. :smile:
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Kim O'Hara » Thu Oct 30, 2014 6:25 am

Qing Tian wrote::oops:

It's actually by Kahlil Gibran in The Prophet
I thought the message was sufficient without the source, but happy to oblige. :smile:
That's okay, but it's always polite to say that you are quoting someone and to who that is and where the words are from.
It's polite to your readers so that they can follow it up if they like it, and to the author to give him/her credit for their work.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Concordiadiscordi » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:02 am

This is also fairly interesting:

http://speculativenonbuddhism.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Don't turn gods into demons?
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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Qing Tian » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:03 am

I'll bear that in mind, Kim.

Thank you, and my apologies. :smile:
“Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate.”

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Kim O'Hara » Thu Oct 30, 2014 8:35 am

Concordiadiscordi wrote:This is also fairly interesting:

http://speculativenonbuddhism.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Don't turn gods into demons?
Yes, although it's quite radical compared to the article in the OP. I don't know anyone who could actually live up to it, in fact; watching out for creeping corporatisation is far easier.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Concordiadiscordi » Thu Oct 30, 2014 9:39 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:
Concordiadiscordi wrote:This is also fairly interesting:

http://speculativenonbuddhism.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Don't turn gods into demons?
Yes, although it's quite radical compared to the article in the OP. I don't know anyone who could actually live up to it, in fact; watching out for creeping corporatisation is far easier.

:namaste:
Kim
Perhaps it is our insistent preference for dismal ease, à la Nietzsche, which constitutes the bulk of this dilemma.
"The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen."
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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by greentara » Fri Oct 31, 2014 3:21 am

Of course corporate spirituality is a dangerous myth, a sham, it doesn't exist. Another name for it is the wellness industry with its many spin offs. Big money to be made...apparently it makes approximately three times the profits of the pharmaceutical industry according to recent reports heard on radio.....sorry I wasn't quick enough to catch the name of the program.

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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Concordiadiscordi » Fri Oct 31, 2014 6:25 am

The following excerpt from chapter 2 of Morris Berman's "Why America Failed: The Roots of Imperial Decline" seems to be quite relevant to this discussion, so I am going to post it without comment, as the excerpt itself is fairly self-explanatory:

"To look back at the eighties is to view a pretty familiar landscape. Newsstands were filled with Money magazines and other similar, glossy periodicals. Yuppie lifestyles were always in the news, and financial planning was all the rage. Steven Jobs, Donald Trump, and Bill Gates were the featured heroes; shows about millionaires, such as Dynasty and Dallas, were extremely popular. An article in Business Week in 1985 declared that “Consumers Are Spending the Economy to Health,” as the yuppies had to have Cuisinarts and chic food products (Grey Poupon mustard, Dannon yogurt), car phones, Sony Walkmans, VCRs, home video game systems, and every other type of high-tech gadget imaginable. Between 1981 and 1985 alone, Americans purchased 62 million microwave ovens, 63 million VCRs, 57 million washers and dryers, 88 million cars and light trucks, 105 million color television sets, 31 million cordless phones, and 30 million telephone answering machines. They made 7 billion trips in and out of shopping centers, and eventually the home computer, along with TV channels such as the Home Shopping Network, added to the frenzy of buying, such that home shopping sales went from $1 million in 1982 to $1.4 billion in 1989. By the mideighties the average credit card holder carried no fewer than seven cards. Ads on television and in popular magazines showed attractive men and women dining in fashionable restaurants, driving BMWs, or sitting at gleaming computers in sleek corporate environments. Clearly, the “good life” was here to stay.1
The ideology that legitimized this way of life was a recycled New Age version of Norman Vincent Peale’s “power of positive thinking.” In one form or another—therapy, “recovery” groups, self-help books, Werner Erhard’s “est,” and the like—the notion that thought determined reality, and that individual effort joined to positive thinking was therefore the key to success, literally blanketed the United States during the Reagan-Clinton years. As Janice Peck shows in The Age of Oprah, it was the perfect philosophy (theology might be more accurate) for the neoliberal era, with Oprah Winfrey acting as its most visible spokesperson. If she never actually endorsed Mr. Reagan, the idea behind the “law of attraction” was that you made your own reality—a philosophy that puts the onus on the individual to think his or her way to success and fortune; the obvious corollary being that if you’ve failed to do this, it’s due to a lack of will or “right thinking.” “Freedom,” in effect, was now defined as chic consumerism, hustling, and self-promotion with a pseudo-religious twist. Oprah presented herself as the ultimate rags-to-riches story, whereas in truth it was black political activism and the civil rights movement that made her career possible. The embarrassing facts of sociopolitical context, however, were systematically excluded from the “analysis” presented on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in which hard-core economic realities were inevitably dismissed or reduced to matters of individual psychology. Any discussion of a Marxist or sociological or sociocritical nature was repeatedly curtailed. Poverty as well as wealth, she stated repeatedly, came down to a personal decision, and this was a worldview that meshed extremely well with the laissez-faire ideology of Reaganomics and beyond. (Recall that Mr. Reagan once declared that homeless people were homeless because they wanted to be.) For one thing, it flattered the yuppie class, which was able to interpret its financial success in terms of its own individual efforts and personal (specifically, spiritual) qualities. By 2000, as Peck observes, Oprah’s spiritual capitalism had acquired an “extraordinary consumer reach,” having attracted the sponsorship of Ford, Microsoft, ABC/Disney, and numerous other corporate sponsors (a sure sign, in my opinion, that something was seriously wrong with the whole thing). Her huge public acclaim reflects the fact that by and large, Americans regard capital accumulation as the purpose of life, and an abundance of consumer possessions as evidence of correct spiritual orientation (or even divine validation). Social context, let alone grassroots political organizing, doesn’t figure very large in this vision, which is, like Reaganism, a species of fantasy.2
Meanwhile, what was Mr. Reagan up to, beyond engaging in an orgy of government spending that tripled the national debt? First, he made the rich much richer. During the eighties, most of the nation’s income gains went to the top 1–2 percent of households. The program of lower taxes on high incomes, and deregulation of business, started a trajectory that saw to it that the income of the top .01 percent of Americans rose sevenfold over 1980–2007. The typical American family, however, saw no significant income gains during the Reagan administration. “Trickle-down” economics was basically a scam: very little trickled down. The real philosophy of the fortieth president, as William Greider notes, was “encourage the strong, forget the weak.” The middle class was squeezed, the poverty rate increased, industrial wages stagnated, and there was an increasing loss of U.S. manufacturing, along with a massive assault on American labor. The country got a lot meaner; the general outlook was nakedly, as never before, every man for himself. The triumphalism of the Reagan era was false, an ever-expanding bubble. In Day of Reckoning, Benjamin Friedman branded Reaganomics a collective national folly, pointing out that the United States went from largest creditor nation in 1980 to largest debtor nation by 1986. “This sense of economic well-being was an illusion,” he wrote; “America has thrown itself a party and billed the tab to the future.”3
But it was even more pernicious than this. In A Brief History of Neoliberalism, David Harvey points out that what Reagan had in mind went beyond ordinary finance capital, as destructive as that was. Globalization and neoliberal economics, he says, constitute an ethic, a belief that all human action is to be governed by the market. The “neoliberal state” is what the United States became during the Reagan years, and what the country decided to export to the rest of the world—by force if necessary (hence the largest peacetime military buildup in American history during this time). In this vision, the basic purpose of the state apparatus is capital accumulation, such that “freedom” and “free enterprise” become one and the same. Across the nation, says Harvey, people welfare was replaced by corporate welfare. The result, he concludes, was increasing social incoherence. What you eventually got was more crime, sex trafficking, and even slavery (the return of sweatshops, even in New York). The mood became one of helplessness and anxiety, which has been pervasive in the United States for some time now, and which America has managed to export to the rest of the planet. On a world scale, this ethic leaves billions poorer while it creates a tiny, and immensely wealthy, elite. As for the middle class—what’s left of it—life has been reduced to shopping, “a world of pseudo-satisfactions that is superficially exciting but hollow at its core.”4
The nineties saw no letup from this pattern. Clinton’s 1993 inauguration cost a whopping $33 million; his focus was the economy, and the unstated agenda of his presidency can be summarized as “Let’s all make money!” These were the years of the dot-com bubble and its collapse, and the heyday of wealth as a virtue. The nation went into work overdrive. In 2000, the average American couple worked a full seven weeks more than they did in 1990. People were constantly hustling, constantly scrambling to get ahead, always available via cell phone, beeper, fax, voice mail, e-mail, you name it. Parents spent less time with children, and spouses less time with each other. Friendship was practically a thing of the past, as Americans went “bowling alone.” The market assumed the status of a divinity, and economists raved about the wealthy as the real winners in life. By 1995, 1 percent of the American population owned 47 percent of the nation’s wealth, and during 1995–99, 86 percent of market advances went to the richest 10 percent of the population. Between 1998 and 2001 (the year the Enron scandal broke), one thousand corporate executives awarded themselves $66 billion in salaries and bonuses; Qwest transferred $2.3 billion from workers’ pensions into the pockets of those running the company. The year 2002 saw a cascade of revelations regarding corporate fraud, including Qwest, WorldCom, AOL, and a host of others. Meanwhile, books with titles such as God Wants You to Be Rich and Jesus, CEO, filled the bookstore shelves, while The Millionaire Next Door (1996) sold more than two million copies and was on the best-seller list for more than three years. Its message: wealth is within reach of everybody. As in the case of Oprah, Suze Orman told her PBS viewing audience much the same thing, connecting cash flow to “spirituality.” Meanwhile, real wages declined: workers were much worse off in the nineties than they had been in the sixties and seventies. Nonbusiness bankruptcy filings topped one million for the first time, in 1996. As for the poor, Mr. Clinton called on U.S. businesses to invest in depressed communities not because it was morally right, but because it would make them rich. (It never happened, in any case.)5"

I have found all of his works to be quite brilliant. He is often prone to indict the new-aged-wishy-washy-corporate-spiritual-self-help-instant-fix-meritocracy. It is both amusing and terrifying, but never fails to fascinate.
"The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen."
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Re: The Dangerous Myth of Corporate Spirituality

Post by Concordiadiscordi » Fri Oct 31, 2014 1:18 pm

For those who are interested, here is the entire article by Zizek:

http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/2/western.php" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen."
- Tommy Smothers

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