Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
mal4mac
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:47 pm

Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by mal4mac » Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:20 pm

... this is the title given to him by the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... p-grenfell

Do you agree that he is a "master"? If not, why not?

"His work has attracted its share of sceptics, such as Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, authors of The Buddha Pill, who caution that mindfulness is no cure-all and warn of a dark side if not taught correctly. Wikholm, a clinical psychologist, has said that “the fact that meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self – who we feel and think we are most of the time – is often overlooked in the science and media stories about it”.

Do you agree with Wikholm that, “meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self."

The 4NT stress that the main point of Buddhism, and Buddhist meditation, is to end suffering, not "destroy our sense of individual self". So I find it hard to agree with Wikholm here. What do you think? I read the introduction to "the Buddha Pill" and wasn't that impressed. Anyone read it? Is it a good read?
- Mal

paul
Posts: 816
Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 11:27 pm
Location: Vietnam

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by paul » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:18 pm

Description of MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) from Wikipedia:

“Body scanning is the first prolonged formal mindfulness technique taught during the first four weeks of the workshop, and entails quietly lying on one's back and focusing one's attention on various regions of the body, starting with the toes and moving up slowly to the top of the head. MBSR is based on the following tenets: non-judging, non-striving, acceptance, letting go, beginner’s mind, patience, trust, and non-centering.
According to Kabat-Zinn, the basis of MBSR is mindfulness, which he defined as "moment-to-moment, non-judgmental awareness." During the program, participants are asked to focus on informal practice as well by incorporating mindfulness into their daily routines. Focusing on the present is thought to heighten sensitivity to the environment and one’s own reactions to it, consequently enhancing self-management and coping. It also provides an outlet from ruminating on the past or worrying about the future, breaking the cycle of these maladaptive cognitive processes.”

‘Life-affirming’ in the MBSR context, means no attempt to employ the present as raw material, but to focus on it exclusively, thereby excluding the operation of classical mindfulness, which utilises the past and present to form the future, constituting a life-transcending process.
Then the frame of reference of MBSR is confined to the body, rather than the four frames, body, feelings, mind and phenomena of classical mindfulness:


“Right mindfulness is a complex process called the establishing of mindfulness, in which you undertake the practice of remaining focused on a particular frame of reference in and of itself—body in and of itself, feelings in and of themselves, mind in and of itself, or mental qualities in and of themselves—ardent, alert, and mindful, subduing greed and distress with reference to the world. Of the three qualities applied to this process, mindfulness remembers from the past what should be done; alertness notices what is happening—and what you are doing—in the present; ardency generates the desire to deal skilfully with the raw material from which present experience can be formed, so as to lead to wellbeing both in the present and on into the future. Without this desire, right mindfulness would not be established.”—-“Right Mindfulness”, Thanissaro.

MBSR is based in psychology rather than Buddhism and this can be identified by its passivity both physical and mental, as the aim of psychology is limited to producing contributing members of society, while the aim of Buddhism is to transcend conventional reality.
Last edited by paul on Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 4539
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Kim OHara » Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:31 pm

mal4mac wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:20 pm
... this is the title given to him by the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... p-grenfell

Do you agree that he is a "master"? If not, why not?
It's close enough for a newspaper headline. He's one of the pioneers and leading exponents of this kind of secularised meditation.
mal4mac wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:20 pm
"His work has attracted its share of sceptics, such as Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, authors of The Buddha Pill, who caution that mindfulness is no cure-all and warn of a dark side if not taught correctly. Wikholm, a clinical psychologist, has said that “the fact that meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self – who we feel and think we are most of the time – is often overlooked in the science and media stories about it”.

Do you agree with Wikholm that, “meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self."

The 4NT stress that the main point of Buddhism, and Buddhist meditation, is to end suffering, not "destroy our sense of individual self". So I find it hard to agree with Wikholm here. What do you think? I read the introduction to "the Buddha Pill" and wasn't that impressed. Anyone read it? Is it a good read?
I think Wikholm's, “meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self," needs a couple of crucial changes: "Meditation was primarily designed to make us happier, by destroying our sense of individual self," is not perfect but it's closer to the truth.
The objectives of MBSR are more limited - maybe, "to make us happier, without destroying our sense of individual self."

So Wikholm's criticism has some validity but goes further than I think is reasonable. HHDL has had quite a lot to do with Kabat-Zinn and his colleagues, which is a pretty good sign that their work has value.

:namaste:
Kim

DooDoot
Posts: 570
Joined: Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:06 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by DooDoot » Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:49 am

mal4mac wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:20 pm
Do you agree that he is a "master"? If not, why not?
The Pali suttas say a person is to be examined for mental states of greed, hatred & delusion before considered to be a "master". If the personal lifestyle of JKZ is merely that of an ordinary worldly person engaged in money making & sensuality then it would probably be concluded is not a "master".
mal4mac wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:20 pm
Do you agree with Wikholm that, “meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self."
Buddhist meditation is primarily designed to make the mind (not "us") happier by destroying the mind's (not "our") sense of individual self. The 1st noble truth explains the five aggregates taken to be "oneself" is suffering. The idea that Buddhist meditation was not designed to develop happiness is crazy. The suttas say Nibbana is the highest happiness and meditation jhana is the 2nd highest happiness and say (somewhere I recall) that the happiness of sensuality is not even 1/16 of the happiness of meditation jhana. According to the suttas, it seems the only purpose of Buddhism is happiness (non-suffering).
But it is this unshakeable deliverance of mind that is the goal of this holy life, its heartwood, and its end. MN 29
197. Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst the hostile. Amidst hostile men we dwell free from hatred.

198. Happy indeed we live, friendly amidst the afflicted (by craving). Amidst afflicted men we dwell free from affliction.

199. Happy indeed we live, free from avarice amidst the avaricious. Amidst the avaricious men we dwell free from avarice.

200. Happy indeed we live, we who possess nothing. Feeders on joy we shall be, like the Radiant Gods.

202. There is no fire like lust and no crime like hatred. There is no ill like conditioned mental states and no bliss higher than the peace (of Nibbana).

203. Hunger is the worst disease, conditioned things the worst suffering. Knowing this as it really is, the wise realize Nibbana, the highest bliss.

204. Health is the most precious gain and contentment the greatest wealth. A trustworthy person is the best kinsman, Nibbana the highest bliss.

205. Having savored the taste of solitude and peace (of Nibbana), pain-free and stainless he becomes, drinking deep the taste of the bliss of the Truth.

206. Good is it to see the Noble Ones; to live with them is ever blissful. One will always be happy by not encountering fools.

Dhammapada

User avatar
L.N.
Posts: 494
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2016 6:01 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by L.N. » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:52 am

mal4mac wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:20 pm
Do you agree that he is a "master"? If not, why not?
I don't think it's for anyone else to judge. From the article:
Kabat-Zinn had been meditating since 1965, but had no compunction in playing the Buddhism right down. “I got into this through the Zen door which is a very irreverent approach to Buddhism,” he says. He talks a lot about dharma, the term for the Buddha’s teaching, but he’s not a Buddhist and remarks that to insist mindfulness meditation is Buddhist is like saying gravity is English because it was identified by Sir Isaac Newton.
Labels only go so far.
Sire patitthitā Buddhā
Dhammo ca tava locane
Sangho patitthitō tuiham
uresabba gunākaro


愿众佛坐在我的头顶, 佛法在我的眼中, 僧伽,功德的根源, 端坐在我的肩上。

chownah
Posts: 6601
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:40 am

I don't think that meditation was originally designed....it was discovered. What difference does it make what it was originally "designed" for? Did you know that a hammer was originally designed to scratch ones back....then one day while scratching the back a cockroach appeared and in anger the implement was used to smack it. Its utility for killing the cockroach was noted and its use to hit things was developed....eventually it was used to drive nails. (hahahhah, just joking) So who cares if it was originally designed to scratch the back?....what insight does that have for us when we want to pound in a nail?
chownah

User avatar
Spiny Norman
Posts: 5165
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Spam, wonderful spam

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Spiny Norman » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:39 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:31 pm
The objectives of MBSR are more limited - maybe, "to make us happier, without destroying our sense of individual self."
Yes, that's been my experience of it, and the clue is the name - Mindfulness based stress reduction.

I view MBSR basically as a therapy which employs some mindfulness techniques.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

User avatar
Spiny Norman
Posts: 5165
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:32 am
Location: Spam, wonderful spam

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Spiny Norman » Mon Nov 13, 2017 9:46 am

paul wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:18 pm
Then the frame of reference of MBSR is confined to the body, rather than the four frames, body, feelings, mind and phenomena of classical mindfulness:
Yes, I think the focus is primarily on mindfulness of the body, with the aim of being more in the present and less "in your head", with less thinking about the past and future.
"My religion is very simple - my religion is ice-cream."
Dairy Lama

User avatar
Sam Vara
Posts: 2459
Joined: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:42 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Sam Vara » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:17 am

I don't know what it would mean to be a "master of mindfulness". I have read articles and extracts by Jon K-Z, and know several people who rate him very highly and teach classes based on what he advocates. I can never really sort out what he is saying. His writing, and the writing and explanations of those around him, seem to be extraordinarily woolly and vapid.

SarathW
Posts: 8283
Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:49 am

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by SarathW » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:48 am

Do you agree with Wikholm that, “meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self."
The way I understand Samatha meditation is for the pleasant abiding here and now and Vipassna meditation for the destroying taints.
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

mal4mac
Posts: 370
Joined: Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:47 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by mal4mac » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:30 pm

Kim OHara wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:31 pm
I think Wikholm's, “meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self," needs a couple of crucial changes: "Meditation was primarily designed to make us happier, by destroying our sense of individual self," is not perfect but it's closer to the truth.
The objectives of MBSR are more limited - maybe, "to make us happier, without destroying our sense of individual self."
I guess your "maybe" comes from JKZ not saying, "Meditation was primarily designed to make us happier, by destroying our sense of individual self," to his non Buddhist audience. I would guess he would lose many patients that way...

I'm happier with "Meditation was primarily designed to make us happier, by destroying our sense of individual self," than with Wikholm's view, but still not totally happy. I'd be happier making the simple statement, ""Meditation was designed to make us happier", and then tell someone how to do it! Anything more and you may be entering that "thicket of views",...
- Mal

binocular
Posts: 4074
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:33 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:17 am
I don't know what it would mean to be a "master of mindfulness".
That he/she is someone everyone else must bow to, obey, worship, and for whom one must forsake all other meditation etc. teachers.
I can never really sort out what he is saying. His writing, and the writing and explanations of those around him, seem to be extraordinarily woolly and vapid.
:tongue:

binocular
Posts: 4074
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:41 pm

mal4mac wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:20 pm
Do you agree with Wikholm that, “meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self."
What source does Wikholm name for that claim?

* * *
chownah wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:40 am
What difference does it make what it was originally "designed" for?

Because a thing's current purpose and functionality depend on what it was originally designed for.

chownah
Posts: 6601
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:55 pm

binocular wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:41 pm

Because a thing's current purpose and functionality depend on what it was originally designed for.
No it doesn't. Current purpose and functionality depends on current use. If you use it now for some purpose it works to some degree or it doesn't.
chownah

binocular
Posts: 4074
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:06 pm

chownah wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:55 pm
No it doesn't. Current purpose and functionality depends on current use. If you use it now for some purpose it works to some degree or it doesn't.
I'm assuming the thing was designed by an intelligent designer who had mastery of the craft. Which is how there are optimal and suboptimal uses of tools and machines.

For example, it is possible to use a standard sewing machine backwards, so that one pulls the sewed item toward oneself. But this is a suboptimal use of a standard sewing machine.

chownah
Posts: 6601
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:36 am

binocular wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 3:06 pm
chownah wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:55 pm
No it doesn't. Current purpose and functionality depends on current use. If you use it now for some purpose it works to some degree or it doesn't.
I'm assuming the thing was designed by an intelligent designer who had mastery of the craft. Which is how there are optimal and suboptimal uses of tools and machines.

For example, it is possible to use a standard sewing machine backwards, so that one pulls the sewed item toward oneself. But this is a suboptimal use of a standard sewing machine.
Stanard sewing machines as originally designed don't do button holes. Then someone invented a button hole attachment and...voila....you can do button holes.
Same for mindfulness meditation.
With respect to mindfulness meditation, some people might think that the original is still the greatest....but many different variations seem to be effective for various people for various purposes.
chownah

binocular
Posts: 4074
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:29 pm

chownah wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:36 am
With respect to mindfulness meditation, some people might think that the original is still the greatest....but many different variations seem to be effective for various people for various purposes.
Your point being?

dharmacorps
Posts: 206
Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:33 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by dharmacorps » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:08 pm

I discovered meditation through MBSR years ago and found Theravada Buddhism from there. At the end of the course, the teacher said "to learn more about where this comes from go to access to insight". For me this was perfect, but I realize there are many variations on MBSR. But I do feel it provides some tools for modern, secular people, which make it more likely to understand Dhamma. JKZ's books are a good starting place if you are coming from an atheistic and skeptical background. My only criticism is it is superficial if not deepened.

chownah
Posts: 6601
Joined: Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:19 pm

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:22 am

binocular wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:29 pm
chownah wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:36 am
With respect to mindfulness meditation, some people might think that the original is still the greatest....but many different variations seem to be effective for various people for various purposes.
Your point being?
There is no point.
chownah

pyluyten
Posts: 50
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 9:08 am

Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by pyluyten » Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:40 am

mal4mac wrote:
Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:20 pm
... this is the title given to him by the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... p-grenfell

Do you agree that he is a "master"? If not, why not?
Thanks for sharing ! this was interesting.

Before reading the articles, i had no idea why one specific man was famous regarding mindfulness, while i thought he is just one of thousands people practicing this while not much interested in other parts of Buddhism. Which we might apply to Goenka, maybe (it would be intersting to have a deep, comparison)

Now that i read the article, it clearly explains this is a question of being one of the first. There was "westerners" intersted in buddhism earlier (like Nietzche! or even antic Greeks as we can learn here!) but he might be one of the first to have understood how mindfulness could spread in a "neutral" theorical background.

Then i disagree with *some* of his statement, which does not matter.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests