White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Ben » Sat Oct 03, 2015 11:06 am

The following is a companion piece to 'Corporate Buddhism is Bullsh*t"
White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement
By Edwin Ng & Ron Purser


To evoke that infernal question that Facebook asks, “What’s on your mind?”, we share here our personal reflections on white privilege and the mindfulness movement. Interspersing our thoughts are segments of the conversation between Angela Davis and Jon Kabat-Zinn at the fundraiser event for East Bay Meditation Center held on January 15, 2015, along with quotes from the article ‘White Fragility’ by the Whiteness Studies scholar, Robin DiAngelo. In showcasing their views as the “interlocutors” for our personal reflections, we hope to invite collective inquiry on this question:

To what extent are the habits of white privilege unacknowledged or under-interrogated in debates about contemporary mindfulness?

http://www.buddhistpeacefellowship.org/ ... -movement/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Your comments are welcome but please read the article in its entirety before doing so.
“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

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
SDC
Posts: 3821
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by SDC » Sat Oct 03, 2015 8:08 pm

Edwin wrote:Secular advocates of mindfulness ostensibly recognize the historical-ideological constructedness of “Buddhism,” when they assert that “the Buddha was not a Buddhist.” Fair enough. But their historical-ideological awareness strikes me as selective and limited, if not disingenuous, immodest, and ungrateful.
For me, Buddhism and Dhamma have a limited relationship. The former is a result of the latter - while Buddhism can grow and evolve, the Dhamma will remain as it is. A 'secular advocate of mindfulness' seriously lacks the credibility to make use of this observation because they have no interest in the Dhamma, even if they are incidentally aware of it - they only wish to suffer less on the way to fulfilling their desires. They have no qualms setting anything aside for the achievement of that end.

The practitioner of the Dhamma on the other hand can make tremendous use of the fact that they are not obligated to adopt everything that has sprouted from the Dhamma over the last 2000 or so years, and forge a deeply personal relationship with the teaching - see how it is innately tailored to their situation with no meanings held at great distances (in space, time, culture, etc.) away from their immediate suffering. While the guilt associated with trying to find the Dhamma in such an intimate and private setting comes in many forms, a development there would nevertheless shine outward in a beneficial way whether through a deliberate description of their understanding or any number of kind acts of body or speech.

User avatar
ancientbuddhism
Posts: 883
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 12:53 pm
Location: Cyberia

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by ancientbuddhism » Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:09 pm

This article is an unfortunate rant. What ‘mindfulness’ is the author referring to? In the main, it is aimed at McMindfulness e.g. MBSR, MBCT and the like. Jon Kabat-zinn and Angela Davis can oscillate forever over ‘race’ and color with reference to those modalities as they are clearly not the teachings of the Tathāgata.

As far as ‘colonized peoples’ and the hubris of ‘the classificatory label of “Buddhism”’ – who cares? certainly , not the practitioners who know and practice with direct involvement in the Dhamma language and contemplative culture. Besides, colonization actually strengthened Vipassanā in Burma.

But what is so disconnected in this rant is the presumption ‘white privilege’ …really? The teachings of the Tathāgata has nothing whatsoever to do with class distinction or color (vaṇṇa) with reference to who is suitable to access the path.
I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

A Handful of Leaves

User avatar
gavesako
Posts: 1732
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 5:16 pm

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by gavesako » Fri Oct 09, 2015 5:53 pm

And another article on this topic:

The Roots of Mindfulness

How a group of Jews turned a Buddhist spiritual practice into a distinctly American phenomenon—and a multi-billion-dollar industry

By Michelle Goldberg

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-an ... indfulness" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

Access to Insight - Theravada texts
Ancient Buddhist Texts - Translations and history of Pali texts
Dhammatalks.org - Sutta translations

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Ben » Sat Oct 10, 2015 12:36 am

Here's another interesting article/blog post from the point of view of a Tibetan refugee visiting an American Tibetan gompa.

http://lhakardiaries.com/2015/10/07/a-t ... monastery/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
I told her about the discomfort I felt. She responded by saying she wasn’t doing anything bad and that her intentions were in the right place. She wanted to appeal to my good sense and convince me out of what she believed was an irrational attachment to my belief that the monastery should be a place only for Tibetans. She argued that there is a way of thinking of religion that is detached from the institutionality of it. It is separate from the community and closer to the idea of spirituality and a sacred truth, she explained. I was not convinced by her definition of spirituality. I told her that her understanding of Tibetan Buddhism reminded me of the rendition that I had heard from Richard Gere. Her intentions were of no importance to me nor did I pay any heed to her claim to goodwill. As for her emotional problems and her need for Buddhism to save her, I couldn’t have given less shit. I didn’t say the last bit out loud. However, I did say that I did not want to participate in an institution that is perpetuating the exoticized narrative of the Tibetan people, which in turn is the influence behind the fundamentalism that is at rise within the Tibetan community; it is responsible behind the popular belief there exists a pure Tibet; the belief that the Tibetans have historically practiced a homogenized form of Buddhism, the only source of which can be found in the new age movement; a movement as White as White can be. I believed I had given an apt response but she did not yield. She said, “I am Jamaican. I know what you are talking about. I have read Said and Fanon.” So, does that mean that her blackness gives her immunity and that her elite, bourgeoisie self can legitimize the appropriated, exotifying narrative of Tibetan Buddhism?
“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

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

alfaaa
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:21 am
Location: India

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by alfaaa » Sun Oct 11, 2015 4:34 am

Seems like the author is suffering from verbal diarrhea - see the spiteful comments made in the comments section. Enough said.

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2015 4:45 am

alfaaa wrote:Seems like the author is suffering from verbal diarrhea - see the spiteful comments made in the comments section. Enough said.
Really? To me it seems the authors have touched a raw nerve. And maybe the explosive reactions some,people have to the article is worth investigating.
“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

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

alfaaa
Posts: 25
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2015 5:21 am
Location: India

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by alfaaa » Sun Oct 11, 2015 7:48 am

Ben wrote:
alfaaa wrote:Seems like the author is suffering from verbal diarrhea - see the spiteful comments made in the comments section. Enough said.
Really? To me it seems the authors have touched a raw nerve. And maybe the explosive reactions some,people have to the article is worth investigating.
No, I meant that the author has made spiteful comments in response to certain feedback from readers. I don't want to post it here, since it is too vulgar. But if u scroll down that page a little, u will see the author's vulgar response in the comments section.

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2015 8:02 am

alfaaa wrote:
Ben wrote:
alfaaa wrote:Seems like the author is suffering from verbal diarrhea - see the spiteful comments made in the comments section. Enough said.
Really? To me it seems the authors have touched a raw nerve. And maybe the explosive reactions some,people have to the article is worth investigating.
No, I meant that the author has made spiteful comments in response to certain feedback from readers. I don't want to post it here, since it is too vulgar. But if u scroll down that page a little, u will see the author's vulgar response in the comments section.
Ok, I did read some of the comments but did not notice any by Purser or Ng.
I shall check them out.
“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

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Ben » Sun Oct 11, 2015 8:06 am

alfaaa wrote:
Ben wrote:
alfaaa wrote:Seems like the author is suffering from verbal diarrhea - see the spiteful comments made in the comments section. Enough said.
Really? To me it seems the authors have touched a raw nerve. And maybe the explosive reactions some,people have to the article is worth investigating.
No, I meant that the author has made spiteful comments in response to certain feedback from readers. I don't want to post it here, since it is too vulgar. But if u scroll down that page a little, u will see the author's vulgar response in the comments section.
Still did not read any spiteful comments made by the article authors.
Thanks anyway.
“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

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

Coyote
Posts: 845
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 12:42 pm
Location: Wales - UK

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Coyote » Sun Oct 11, 2015 1:43 pm

I think alfaaa is referring to http://lhakardiaries.com/2015/10/07/a-t ... -monastery , there are a few nasty comments made by the author on that page.

What might be worth investigating, given that I don't know how many members of this Theravada forum would wish to associate themselves with the Corporate/modern/secular mindfulness movement anyway, are questions of white privilege and cultural appropriation applied to more traditional Buddhist teaching in western contexts.
"If beings knew, as I know, the results of giving & sharing, they would not eat without having given, nor would the stain of miserliness overcome their minds. Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared."
Iti 26

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 19065
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Oct 13, 2015 7:17 am

Greetings,



Metta,
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)

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3129
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Mr Man » Tue Oct 13, 2015 7:32 am

Paul Davy wrote:Greetings,

----

Metta,
Paul. :)
Paul, why on earth are you posting this here?

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 19065
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:08 am

Greetings Mr Man,
Mr Man wrote:Paul, why on earth are you posting this here?
Because I think it insightfully highlights how useless and potentially destructive the notion of White Privilege is.

The presenter quotes Martin Luther King, but alternatively we could quote the Buddha...

Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a brahman.
By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes a brahman.

Metta,
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)

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23043
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:44 am

Paul Davy wrote:Greetings Mr Man,
Mr Man wrote:Paul, why on earth are you posting this here?
Because I think it insightfully highlights how useless and potentially destructive the notion of White Privilege is.

The presenter quotes Martin Luther King, but alternatively we could quote the Buddha...

Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a brahman.
By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes a brahman.

Metta,
Paul. :)
The problem with this video is that is a American very right wing take on the question that does fairly decent job of ignoring much of the real issues at play.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

User avatar
Mr Man
Posts: 3129
Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:42 am

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Mr Man » Tue Oct 13, 2015 9:54 am

Paul Davy wrote:Greetings Mr Man,
Mr Man wrote:Paul, why on earth are you posting this here?
Because I think it insightfully highlights how useless and potentially destructive the notion of White Privilege is.

The presenter quotes Martin Luther King, but alternatively we could quote the Buddha...

Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a brahman.
By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes a brahman.

Metta,
Paul. :)
That she quotes Martin Luther King's speech that came about because of white privilege is highly ironic.

Again that the Buddha taught "Not by birth is one an outcast" would, to me, be because the common understanding and way of society was (& is) that birth gave privilege and he was speaking in a way that did not support that.

In my opinion it is clear that the you tube clip is part of the wider right wing propaganda machine, which has a very definite nasty underbelly. Quacks like a duck and all that.

I wish people would stop dumping this stuff on here.

User avatar
tiltbillings
Posts: 23043
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 9:25 am

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by tiltbillings » Tue Oct 13, 2015 10:41 am

Mr Man wrote:
I wish people would stop dumping this stuff on here.
I do strongly agree with your assessment.
>> Do you see a man wise [enlightened/ariya] in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.<< -- Proverbs 26:12

This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond. -- SN I, 38.

“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” HPatDH p.723

User avatar
Ben
Posts: 18442
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:49 am
Location: kanamaluka

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by Ben » Tue Oct 13, 2015 12:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Mr Man wrote:
I wish people would stop dumping this stuff on here.
I do strongly agree with your assessment.
And you gotta love being lectured to on the 'danger and uselessness' of white privilage by a white middle class university student.
“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

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

User avatar
DNS
Site Admin
Posts: 11075
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:15 am
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Contact:

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by DNS » Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:05 pm

I disagree with most of what is said in that video because there is still racism and privilege in every society.

However, in regard to the OP, as I mentioned in the identity politics thread, I am not a secular Buddhist, nor interested in the corporate mindfulness movement, but don't see it as a white privilege phenomenon. I believe the corporate mindfulness movement is clearly a class thing. I am sure there could be plenty of black and Asian corporate mindfulness practitioners. Certainly many practitioners from the West have taken a more secularized approach to the Dhamma, but if that is not your cup of tea, why not avoid it, just don't drink it? If you prefer the more religious aspect to the teachings, then follow that, but I don't see that convert Buddhists are forcing their views on others. And I don't think it needs to broken down into race lines, but rather more into differences of viewpoints.

User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 19065
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: White Privilege and the Mindfulness Movement

Post by retrofuturist » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:58 pm

Greetings,
David N. Snyder wrote:I don't think it needs to broken down into race lines, but rather more into differences of viewpoints.
I agree. Division of self and others into conceptual groupings and maligning others on that basis is one of the most destructive of mankind's habits. I doubt that more of the same is the answer to the problem!

Metta to all - near or far, seen or unseen, tall, small or middling, born and yet to be born, in all directions.

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)

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 43 guests