Sit down and shut up: pulling mindfulness up by its Buddhist roots

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Sit down and shut up: pulling mindfulness up by its Buddhist roots

Post by Ben » Wed Jul 13, 2016 11:46 pm

The modern emphasis on mindfulness and meditation is a fairly recent phenomenon. Historian Eric Braun notes that lay meditation did not begin in earnest until an early-twentieth-century anti-colonial movement among Theravada Buddhists in Burma. Before then, meditation teachings remained the province of monks and nuns. The monastic setting ensured that meditation practices took place in a community of aspirants abiding by a common code of conduct and observing a shared set of rituals. While deemed necessary for liberation, meditation practices like mindfulness were not sufficient. The accompanying rules and relationships were just as important
The entire article is worth your considered attention.
-- ... ist-roots/

Comments welcome but please read the article in its entirety first.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: Sit down and shut up: pulling mindfulness up by its Buddhist roots

Post by retrofuturist » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:42 am

Ben wrote:Comments welcome but please read the article in its entirety first.
It's a refreshing article in the sense that it acknowledges various viewpoints, rather than just hammering home the same tired old arguments against "corporate mindfulness" that are rooted in the contentious, divisive, and academically dubious frameworks of cultural appropriation and critical race theory. (Admittedly there is some of that in the article, but as I said, it does acknowledge various viewpoints...)

To that end, it avoids the hypocrisy and double standards of many of the published articles which discuss such matters. For example, it has the integrity to note that...
Loncke and other mindfulness critics belong to an engaged Buddhist movement that itself is open to criticism for the appropriation of Buddhism, hitching the tradition to a progressive political agenda. “There’s nothing necessarily inherent in the Buddhist tradition that would lend itself to leftist politics,” said McMahan. “I’m sympathetic to engaged Buddhism,” he added. “But that’s more about me and my politics than it is about Buddhism.” The Buddha wasn’t mindfully coding apps—but he wasn’t scrawling lefty placards, either.


Engaged Buddhists, meanwhile, tend to link broad Buddhist notions like nonviolence (ahimsa) or generosity (dana) to contemporary political issues. Ikeda warned against such “cherry-picking through Buddhist sources” or “finding nuggets of things and saying ‘aha, this supports my point.’” She contrasted this approach with a “logical and thoughtful evolution” of the religion, which she says engaged Buddhism can provide.
Such transparency, nuance and honesty is rare in such pieces, as it's typically these so-called Engaged Buddhists who appear to be the most heavily invested in influencing and controlling the narrative on how other people choose to understand and practice mindfulness (as if such private matters of spiritual autonomy are matters of public concern).
Perhaps the corrective for appropriation, in either case, is proper citation. That’s what Ikeda, the East Bay Meditation Center teacher, wants, demanding of Western Buddhists “not only awareness” of source cultures “but attribution and acknowledgment.”
... and this, appears to be a sensible middle way to me. Citation and acknowledgement enables people to be better informed about the origin of certain practices, and be empowered to make more informed choices - all without recourse to the unwholesomeness of heavy-handed cultural authoritarianism, division, or incessant complaining.

Paul. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"One discerns wrong view as wrong view, and right view as right view. This is one's right view." (MN 117)


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