Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Exploring modern Theravāda interpretations of the Buddha's teaching.
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mikenz66
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:47 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:35 pm
Why doesn't the Buddha give this advice to Rahula when he advises him to reflect on the consequences of his actions?
I think because they belong to different levels of development of the gradual path. Good sila is required to develop the calm and insight enabling the letting go...

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:52 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 11:23 am
I am curious as to whether those who are critical of MBSR actually have any experience of it?

"I tried it, but didn't find it satisfactory because...( insert reasons )" seems like a more credible response than "I just don't like the sound of it".
I can't do it, because I have no idea how to be "nonjudgmentally aware", and nobody wants to/can teach me that.
I listen to JKZ giving instructions on how to be "nonjudgmentally aware" and he might as well be speaking Chinese (of which I don't understand a word).

- - -
robertk wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:21 am
binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:03 am
On the other hand, there is an approach both in psychology as well as in popular Buddhism that has a practice of considering thoughts, feelings, etc. as "just thoughts, just feelings," etc. with the implication that this somehow makes them eminently dismissable. It's this practice that trivializes thoughts, feelings, etc. -- and it is this trivialization that I have been fighting all along (although it seems unsuccessfully).
I would say any phenomena which arises only for an instant , then ceases immediately- as all dhammas do- is insignificant and if seen as such wouldn't even need to be dismissed.
And then what?

In my experience, when I try to let in the seen be only the seen etc., I end up in a kind of anomic, zoned-out state, like a blissed-out zombie. That can't be right!

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:53 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:47 pm
binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:35 pm
Why doesn't the Buddha give this advice to Rahula when he advises him to reflect on the consequences of his actions?
I think because they belong to different levels of development of the gradual path. Good sila is required to develop the calm and insight enabling the letting go...
And JKZ, for example, is advanced in sila like that?

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by mikenz66 » Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:55 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:53 pm
And JKZ, for example, is advanced in sila like that?
I've no idea. But I think you may be identifying a problem that some of these secular techniques seem to jump immediately to a rather advanced form of practice.

Of course, there are different levels of "letting go". I think what Spiney quoted was quite advanced.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Dhammanando » Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:36 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:35 pm
Why doesn't the Buddha give this advice to Rahula when he advises him to reflect on the consequences of his actions?
Rāhula was only seven and newly ordained, so the Buddha gave him an exhortation on sīla. It's in the Cūḷarāhulovāda Sutta that he is given an insight-related discourse that leads him to arahatta.

http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/middle-l ... vada-sutta
On retreat and offline May 22 - July 10.

„Sedem solitariam, cubitum solitarium
solitarius colens non segnis,
solitarius semet ipse domans
in sylva extrema delectatus sit.“

(Dhammapada 305. tr. Viggo Fausbøll. 1855)

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm

binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:52 pm
In my experience, when I try to let in the seen be only the seen etc., I end up in a kind of anomic, zoned-out state, like a blissed-out zombie. That can't be right!
It isn't right, but it's a fairly common 'wrong turning' for people to take. I'm not sure if I can explain the difference in any understandable way, though.

One approach is to liken it to the difference between observing the breath in meditation, and controlling the breath - another common 'wrong turning.' When we are trying to simply observe the breath, we can slip into controlling it instead, without even noticing that's what we're doing, and that can lead to all sorts of unwanted tension and discomfort.
Similarly, when we are trying to simply observe the seen, we can slip into trying to actively shut down our thoughts and judgements, rather than letting them float away.

I'm not sure that will make sense, but it's the best I can do. Maybe someone else can do better?

:namaste:
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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Saengnapha » Fri Nov 24, 2017 3:29 am

binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:52 pm
In my experience, when I try to let in the seen be only the seen etc., I end up in a kind of anomic, zoned-out state, like a blissed-out zombie. That can't be right!
Of course it's not right. You cannot separate the seen from the seer. It is one activity that your mind has divided into two parts. You cannot be 'non judgmentally aware'. All perception is judgemental at this stage. Stop fighting it and trying to lead it somewhere. This is the activity that is disturbing you. The kind of relaxation and withdrawal from focusing on mental and emotional disturbances needs to happen first. This is done with calming/tranquility practice. The attention withdraws from this activity of thoughts and feelings and you might find yourself feeling blissful. Nothing wrong with that. It is just a stage, an effect. Vipassana, insight, can happen then, but only if the other conditions are present.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by robertk » Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:03 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm
binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:52 pm
In my experience, when I try to let in the seen be only the seen etc., I end up in a kind of anomic, zoned-out state, like a blissed-out zombie. That can't be right!
It isn't right, but it's a fairly common 'wrong turning' for people to take. I'm not sure if I can explain the difference in any understandable way, though.


Similarly, when we are trying to simply observe the seen, we can slip into trying to actively shut down our thoughts and judgements, rather than letting them float away.



:namaste:
Kim
Exactly right. :anjali:

All of that *trying* to observe etc is based around a subtle belief that there is someone who can make things occur.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Crazy cloud » Fri Nov 24, 2017 5:24 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm
binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:52 pm
In my experience, when I try to let in the seen be only the seen etc., I end up in a kind of anomic, zoned-out state, like a blissed-out zombie. That can't be right!
It isn't right, but it's a fairly common 'wrong turning' for people to take. I'm not sure if I can explain the difference in any understandable way, though.

One approach is to liken it to the difference between observing the breath in meditation, and controlling the breath - another common 'wrong turning.' When we are trying to simply observe the breath, we can slip into controlling it instead, without even noticing that's what we're doing, and that can lead to all sorts of unwanted tension and discomfort.
Similarly, when we are trying to simply observe the seen, we can slip into trying to actively shut down our thoughts and judgements, rather than letting them float away.

I'm not sure that will make sense, but it's the best I can do. Maybe someone else can do better?

:namaste:
Kim
Hi, maybe this can be of some help - if not, sorry .. :smile:

The point that includes everything - Ajahn sumedho:
https://www.amaravati.org/audio/the-poi ... ction-198/
If you didn't care
What happened to me
And I didn't care for you

We would zig-zag our way
Through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain

Wondering which of the
Buggers to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing
- Roger Waters

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:56 am

mikenz66 wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 7:55 pm
I've no idea. But I think you may be identifying a problem that some of these secular techniques seem to jump immediately to a rather advanced form of practice.
Image
I suppose this guy, for example, has considerable meditation attainment too ... (Now how's that for provoking prejudices about spiritual attainment?)

Anyway, my point is that the suttas are anything but shy when it comes to straightforwardly talking about morality, while the secular mindfulness folks seem to shun it. Maybe they are deliberately trying to be neutral, or they take it for granted (and see no need to talk about it explicitly), or they are just so advanced that I cannot even begin to comprehend them.

- - -
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm
It isn't right, but it's a fairly common 'wrong turning' for people to take. I'm not sure if I can explain the difference in any understandable way, though.

One approach is to liken it to the difference between observing the breath in meditation, and controlling the breath - another common 'wrong turning.' When we are trying to simply observe the breath, we can slip into controlling it instead, without even noticing that's what we're doing, and that can lead to all sorts of unwanted tension and discomfort.
Similarly, when we are trying to simply observe the seen, we can slip into trying to actively shut down our thoughts and judgements, rather than letting them float away.

I'm not sure that will make sense, but it's the best I can do. Maybe someone else can do better?
What you're describing is something awfully advanced, namely, direct perception, ie. a perception that is not conditioned.
I find it hard to believe that all those masses of folks doing mindfulness meditation have attained to direct perception.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm

Dhammanando wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 8:36 pm
binocular wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 6:35 pm
Why doesn't the Buddha give this advice to Rahula when he advises him to reflect on the consequences of his actions?
Rāhula was only seven and newly ordained, so the Buddha gave him an exhortation on sīla. It's in the Cūḷarāhulovāda Sutta that he is given an insight-related discourse that leads him to arahatta.

http://www.wisdompubs.org/book/middle-l ... vada-sutta
But is there any sutta that combines moral exhortation _and_ a teaching on anatta?

When the Buddha advised the Kalamas, why didn't he tell them to view their doubts and questions about right and wrong, true and false as stressful, impermanent, and notself?

- - -
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm
I'm not sure that will make sense, but it's the best I can do. Maybe someone else can do better?
Meditation doesn't happen in some kind of metaphysical and moral vacuum. Just because someone doesn't specify their metaphysical and moral convictions, doesn't automatically mean that they don't have them or that they are beyond them.
And I suspect the mindfulness folks have plenty of those convictions, and that they are vital to their practice, and that one must also have those convictions, or their practice won't work for one.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:10 pm

binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm

Meditation doesn't happen in some kind of metaphysical and moral vacuum.
Are you sure of this?....how would you know?
chownah

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:33 pm

binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm
I'm not sure that will make sense, but it's the best I can do. Maybe someone else can do better?
Meditation doesn't happen in some kind of metaphysical and moral vacuum. Just because someone doesn't specify their metaphysical and moral convictions, doesn't automatically mean that they don't have them or that they are beyond them.
That's true.
binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm
And I suspect the mindfulness folks have plenty of those convictions, and that they are vital to their practice
That's probably true, too.
binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm
and that one must also have those convictions, or their practice won't work for one.
That's not true, however. The heart of the practice is simply accurate observation of what's going on in our own minds, and its success is quite independent of our specific religious or moral framework. That's why Buddhist meditation and Christian meditation can be so similar and produce such similar results.
Mindfulness without any metaphysical framework could be problematic, but I'm not sure that any of us really has no set of beliefs and assumptions underpinning our daily lives. If we think we have none, it's probably because we've never looked for them or at them. And in that case, mindfulness could lead us to look at them and perhaps improve them.
binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:56 am
Kim OHara wrote:
Thu Nov 23, 2017 9:43 pm
It isn't right, but it's a fairly common 'wrong turning' for people to take. I'm not sure if I can explain the difference in any understandable way, though.

One approach is to liken it to the difference between observing the breath in meditation, and controlling the breath - another common 'wrong turning.' When we are trying to simply observe the breath, we can slip into controlling it instead, without even noticing that's what we're doing, and that can lead to all sorts of unwanted tension and discomfort.
Similarly, when we are trying to simply observe the seen, we can slip into trying to actively shut down our thoughts and judgements, rather than letting them float away.

I'm not sure that will make sense, but it's the best I can do. Maybe someone else can do better?
What you're describing is something awfully advanced, namely, direct perception, ie. a perception that is not conditioned.
I find it hard to believe that all those masses of folks doing mindfulness meditation have attained to direct perception.
I think you're setting up an artificial barrier here, or you may be misinterpreting what I said.
Forget the 'direct perception' label, and then forget 'all those masses'.
What I'm talking about is always (I think) momentary in its early stages and often lost quickly, but it's still useful. With practice, it comes more easily and is maintained for longer, but it's still lost easily - and still useful. With more practice ... I guess we're talking 'awfully advanced' at last.
Like any skill (learning a musical instrument, for instance), it's something that develops with practice and persistence - and it's something that many people give up working on before they get to be really really good at it. That's okay. If they only ever wanted to play "Jingle Bells" and they can, fine. :shrug:

:namaste:
Kim

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:35 am

chownah wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 1:10 pm
binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm

Meditation doesn't happen in some kind of metaphysical and moral vacuum.
Are you sure of this?....how would you know?
Granted, some people are very capable of psychological compartmentalization.
For example, I once heard a Catholic say that he wants his future wife to take the pill when they "make the art of love" and that he doesn't let his religious beliefs interfere with his sex life.

Some people are like that. I can't compartmentalize like that, though, and I tend to have a "one thing all the time" mentality, a tendency to be aware of the "bigger picture" much of my waking hours (for better or worse). My metaphysical concerns (that "big picture") are very close to me, and if I don't think about them directly, I know they are right under the surface. I don't know what it's like to be otherwise.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by Dhammanando » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:04 am

binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm
But is there any sutta that combines moral exhortation _and_ a teaching on anatta?
I think that description would apply to MN 22

https://suttacentral.net/en/mn22

Also to any sutta that reports the Buddha giving a "graduated talk on Dhamma", i.e., one on dāna, sīla, heavenly rebirth, the peril of sense-desires and advantage of renunciation, culminating in an exposition of the four noble truths.

And then there are the two Cetanākaraṇīyasuttas, in both of which the line of reasoning is predicated upon the anattā-ness of things:
“Bhikkhus, for a virtuous person, one whose behavior is virtuous, no volition need be exerted: ‘Let non-regret arise in me.’ It is natural that non-regret arises in a virtuous person, one whose behavior is virtuous.
https://suttacentral.net/en/an10.2
https://suttacentral.net/en/an11.2
binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm
When the Buddha advised the Kalamas, why didn't he tell them to view their doubts and questions about right and wrong, true and false as stressful, impermanent, and notself?
The Buddha’s policy seems to have been to give whatever kind of teaching would conduce to the highest good that his listeners were capable of. In this case, apparently, it was conversion to the Dhamma, not penetration of the Dhamma.
On retreat and offline May 22 - July 10.

„Sedem solitariam, cubitum solitarium
solitarius colens non segnis,
solitarius semet ipse domans
in sylva extrema delectatus sit.“

(Dhammapada 305. tr. Viggo Fausbøll. 1855)

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:24 am

Dhammanando wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:04 am
binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm
But is there any sutta that combines moral exhortation _and_ a teaching on anatta?
I think that description would apply to MN 22
/.../
Also to any sutta that reports the Buddha giving a "graduated talk on Dhamma", i.e., one on dāna, sīla, heavenly rebirth, the peril of sense-desires and advantage of renunciation, culminating in an exposition of the four noble truths.

And then there are the two Cetanākaraṇīyasuttas, in both of which the line of reasoning is predicated upon the anattā-ness of things:
/.../
Of course; there are suttas in which moral exhortation and a teaching on anatta are combined in one sutta. But are they ever combined in one sentence or one short passage, that is, can there ever be found a statement to the effect of
binocular wrote:
Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:56 am
"When you think that your actions have caused harm to yourself or others, you should see that as a mere thought."
or
chownah wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:25 am
" if you feel remorse it is best to view that feeling as not mine, not self, etc."
" if you feel hiri or ottappa it is best to view that feeling as not mine, not self, etc."
/.../
In other words, remorse, hiri, and ottoppa are all feelings (which seem to be closely associated) and the buddhas has said that "any feeling whatsoever.....is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: 'This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am."
-- ?
binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm
When the Buddha advised the Kalamas, why didn't he tell them to view their doubts and questions about right and wrong, true and false as stressful, impermanent, and notself?
The Buddha’s policy seems to have been to give whatever kind of teaching would conduce to the highest good that his listeners were capable of. In this case, apparently, it was conversion to the Dhamma, not penetration of the Dhamma.
Does this mean that a more advanced person would see their doubts and questions about right and wrong, true and false as stressful, impermanent, and notself?
It seems absurd to me that they would. And if I'm wrong about this, I'll have to overhaul everything I think I know or makes sense.


Thank you for your reply.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:39 am

Kim OHara wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 11:33 pm
binocular wrote:
Fri Nov 24, 2017 12:08 pm
and that one must also have those convictions, or their practice won't work for one.
That's not true, however. The heart of the practice is simply accurate observation of what's going on in our own minds, and its success is quite independent of our specific religious or moral framework. That's why Buddhist meditation and Christian meditation can be so similar and produce such similar results.
Mindfulness without any metaphysical framework could be problematic, but I'm not sure that any of us really has no set of beliefs and assumptions underpinning our daily lives. If we think we have none, it's probably because we've never looked for them or at them. And in that case, mindfulness could lead us to look at them and perhaps improve them.
If a person has a nihilistic or pessimistic outlook on life, can (secular) mindfulness meditation work for them?
Based on my own experience, I say it can't.

I contend that one must have at least a basic optimism about life for (secular) mindfulness meditation to work for them.

If Buddhist meditation and Christian meditation can be so similar and produce such similar results, that is, in my opinion, because the tested Buddhists and Christians both had that basic optimism about life.

They should take a group of cynical, pessimistic, nihilistic people and see if mindfulness meditation works for them. If it would work on them, then mindfulness meditation could really be considered culture-neutral and objectively beneficial, much like water helps a dehydrated person regardless of their race, religion, political orientation etc.
In fact, to be sure, they should perform such tests on prospectless homeless people or on people who are on death row.
I think you're setting up an artificial barrier here, or you may be misinterpreting what I said.

Not at all, and you're confirming what I said:
What I'm talking about is always (I think) momentary in its early stages and often lost quickly, but it's still useful. With practice, it comes more easily and is maintained for longer, but it's still lost easily - and still useful. With more practice ... I guess we're talking 'awfully advanced' at last.

If something can be easily lost and cannot be relied on, then it's not much use.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by mal4mac » Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:42 pm

binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:39 am

If a person has a nihilistic or pessimistic outlook on life, can (secular) mindfulness meditation work for them?
Well if you are so pessimistic that you think MBSR has no chance of relieving your stress, somewhat, I can't see it working as you will not be able to generate the enough "right effort" to pursue it. Then you need to think hard about the basis of your pessimism - I mean you cannot be certain it will not work, the doctors seem to rate it, so why not assume it will, give it a fair chance. What's 45 mins a day for eight weeks? Of course, if you are very irrational and very pessimistic then it will be very difficult to generate any way to proceed.

Some pessimism might be useful for getting you to meditate - if you think "everyday remedies" don't work, but meditation just might, then you might be more likely to pursue meditation than a sad optimistic who thinks: "I'll eat jam buns, jog, chat to my neighbours, drink booze, buys lots of clothes, maybe meditate, do everything that seems fun," that'll make me totally happy. Meditation might get lost in the blur of optimistic "do all fun things", and in the burn out that follows...
- Mal

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by binocular » Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:55 pm

mal4mac wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:42 pm
binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 11:39 am
If a person has a nihilistic or pessimistic outlook on life, can (secular) mindfulness meditation work for them?
Well if you are so pessimistic that you think MBSR has no chance of relieving your stress, somewhat, I can't see it working as you will not be able to generate the enough "right effort" to pursue it. Then you need to think hard about the basis of your pessimism - I mean you cannot be certain it will not work, the doctors seem to rate it, so why not assume it will, give it a fair chance. What's 45 mins a day for eight weeks? Of course, if you are very irrational and very pessimistic then it will be very difficult to generate any way to proceed.
It's not just pessimism about MBSR, but about life in general.

Take for example someone who believes that life is basically like cleaning, decorating, etc. the deck of a sinking ship. Ie. whatever efforts one invests, they are going to come to naught at some point (possibly soon or anytime).

A pessimistic person, for example, thinks, "Yes, there are all those small pleasures, food, and drink, and parties, and relationships, and work, and surely mindfulness can provide a measure of relaxation or happiness. But what good are all those pleasures, when sooner or later, one has to die and it all comes to an end? All those pleasures are powerless against the problems of aging, illness, and death."

In the face of death, how can one be optimistic about ordinary life pursuits (including MBSR)?

If one tells this to one's doctor, chances are one will be told that one is "depressed," prescribed a bunch of pills, and expected to believe that existential angst is merely a disease, something abnormal, not something to be taken seriously.

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Re: Master of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Post by chownah » Sat Nov 25, 2017 1:53 pm

binocular wrote:
Sat Nov 25, 2017 12:55 pm

Take for example someone who believes that life is basically like cleaning, decorating, etc. the deck of a sinking ship. Ie. whatever efforts one invests, they are going to come to naught at some point (possibly soon or anytime).
I agree. I need some advise as to when I should stop flossing my teeth. After a certain age the only benefit to be had from flossing is to the aesthetics of your skull's smile after death. So....at what age should I stop?
chownah

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