The mindfulness conspiracy

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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DooDoot
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The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by DooDoot » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:44 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... irituality

It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism.

By Ronald Purser
:spy:
There is always an official executioner. If you try to take his place, It is like trying to be a master carpenter and cutting wood. If you try to cut wood like a master carpenter, you will only hurt your hand.

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Laurens
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Laurens » Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:41 pm

I don't see what could be more activist than trying to uproot greed, hatred, and ignorance from your own being.

I'm at risk of being a bit too political here, but what is the force that drives destructive global consumerism? Is it not the sum total of beings upon beings projecting their greed, hatred, and ignorance into the world. If that's the case then removing oneself from that picture is one of the wisest and most effective means of activism.

I mean it's better than tweeting an anti-capitalist petition laden with hashtags from an iPhone.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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Jerafreyr
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Jerafreyr » Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:49 pm

Laurens wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:41 pm
I don't see what could be more activist than trying to uproot greed, hatred, and ignorance from your own being.

I'm at risk of being a bit too political here, but what is the force that drives destructive global consumerism? Is it not the sum total of beings upon beings projecting their greed, hatred, and ignorance into the world. If that's the case then removing oneself from that picture is one of the wisest and most effective means of activism.

I mean it's better than tweeting an anti-capitalist petition laden with hashtags from an iPhone.
Yes, but the issue is they don't take refuge from samsara. Without the refuge taking sadhana becomes another source of the asavas. People long for freedom but in their ignorance pursue the causes of misery and no amount of ordinary mindfulness will fix that.

binocular
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by binocular » Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:45 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:44 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... irituality

It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism.

By Ronald Purser
"Corporate mindfulness" has always been designed to help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but it was never intended to undo capitalism, not even to question it.

From the above link:
Framing what they offer in this way, most teachers of mindfulness rule out a curriculum that critically engages with causes of suffering in the structures of power and economic systems of capitalist society.
Etc.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:58 pm

DooDoot wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:44 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... irituality

It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism.

By Ronald Purser
:spy:
The Guardian has printed several similar articles. Standard Pop-Marxist stuff which is derived from a partial understanding of Marx's dictum about religion being the "opium of the people". Significantly, Lenin disliked music because it distracted from the horrors of life under capitalism.

Even leaving aside the issue of the secular mindfulness of the article differing markedly from what the Buddha meant, the usual Marxist mistake is made by assuming that all ravages are specifically capitalist ravages. Ancient India wasn't remotely capitalist, yet the Buddha claimed mindfulness to be "all helpful". People in all societies, not just capitalist, suffer the ravages of birth, old age, sickness, death, separation from the liked, and association with the disliked. If those secular Guardian readers suffer because their boss fails to pay them the full value of their labour, they probably also suffer because of sexual promiscuity, drink, drugs, and incorrect speech, etc.

Laurens
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Laurens » Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:59 pm

Jerafreyr wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:49 pm
Yes, but the issue is they don't take refuge from samsara. Without the refuge taking sadhana becomes another source of the asavas. People long for freedom but in their ignorance pursue the causes of misery and no amount of ordinary mindfulness will fix that.
So we are talking Mindfulness™ rather than Dhamma as taught by the Buddha? As in practising present moment awareness, not as a factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, but as a means to somewhat de-stress the consumerist lifestyle with little or no intention of dropping it?

Personally I would like to be optimistic that Mindfulness™ is a doorway to taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. Or at least that the gravity of present-moment awareness points towards that door. I don't see that more awareness is a bad thing. But you're right it's not as proactive as actually setting one's refuge outside of worldly things entirely.
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

binocular
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by binocular » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:10 pm

Laurens wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:59 pm
So we are talking Mindfulness™ rather than Dhamma as taught by the Buddha? As in practising present moment awareness, not as a factor of the Noble Eightfold Path, but as a means to somewhat de-stress the consumerist lifestyle with little or no intention of dropping it?
Of course.
Personally I would like to be optimistic that Mindfulness™ is a doorway to taking refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha.
As long as it is promoted by Western psychologists, it has to be decidedly areligious. So, no such doorway in sight.
Or at least that the gravity of present-moment awareness points towards that door.

I don't see that more awareness is a bad thing.
Then people wouldn't "drink to forget".
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by binocular » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:11 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:58 pm
sexual promiscuity, drink, drugs, and incorrect speech, etc.
Which are the bread and butter of capitalism.
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

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Sam Vara
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:25 pm

binocular wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:11 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:58 pm
sexual promiscuity, drink, drugs, and incorrect speech, etc.
Which are the bread and butter of capitalism.
They are enthusiastically consumed in non-capitalist systems, too.

(On second thoughts, non-capitalist systems usually have to put up with margarine rather than the butter...)
Last edited by Sam Vara on Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dinsdale
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:14 pm

Mindfulness is the most revolutionary thing I know of.
Buddha save me from new-agers!

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Mr Man
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Mr Man » Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:30 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:58 pm
DooDoot wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:44 pm
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyl ... irituality

It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism.

By Ronald Purser
:spy:
The Guardian has printed several similar articles. Standard Pop-Marxist stuff which is derived from a partial understanding of Marx's dictum about religion being the "opium of the people". Significantly, Lenin disliked music because it distracted from the horrors of life under capitalism.

Even leaving aside the issue of the secular mindfulness of the article differing markedly from what the Buddha meant, the usual Marxist mistake is made by assuming that all ravages are specifically capitalist ravages. Ancient India wasn't remotely capitalist, yet the Buddha claimed mindfulness to be "all helpful". People in all societies, not just capitalist, suffer the ravages of birth, old age, sickness, death, separation from the liked, and association with the disliked. If those secular Guardian readers suffer because their boss fails to pay them the full value of their labour, they probably also suffer because of sexual promiscuity, drink, drugs, and incorrect speech, etc.

Nicely politicised :tongue:
Lenin disliked music because it distracted from the horrors of life under capitalism
Is this factual?
the usual Marxist mistake is made by assuming that all ravages are specifically capitalist ravages
What makes you think marxists believe "birth, old age, sickness, death, separation from the liked, and association with the disliked" are caused by capitalism?

What is the connection between Marxism and the article?

Thanks

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Sam Vara
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:46 pm

Mr Man wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 7:30 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:58 pm

The Guardian has printed several similar articles. Standard Pop-Marxist stuff which is derived from a partial understanding of Marx's dictum about religion being the "opium of the people". Significantly, Lenin disliked music because it distracted from the horrors of life under capitalism.

Even leaving aside the issue of the secular mindfulness of the article differing markedly from what the Buddha meant, the usual Marxist mistake is made by assuming that all ravages are specifically capitalist ravages. Ancient India wasn't remotely capitalist, yet the Buddha claimed mindfulness to be "all helpful". People in all societies, not just capitalist, suffer the ravages of birth, old age, sickness, death, separation from the liked, and association with the disliked. If those secular Guardian readers suffer because their boss fails to pay them the full value of their labour, they probably also suffer because of sexual promiscuity, drink, drugs, and incorrect speech, etc.

Nicely politicised :tongue:
I don't think there's much in there about politics, except in so far as a political sensibility can apply itself to virtually any topic; which is, after all, one of the main themes of the article. I'm not politically motivated to either praise or condemn Marxist philosophy; I'm merely pointing out the provenance of some of the ideas in the article and how, like all other systems, Marxism falls short of comprehending the Dhamma. The same could be said of any other social or political theory.
Is this factual?
Lenin did speak approvingly of some types of music, and wasn't consistently dismissive. I was thinking of this, his most famous quote on the topic which was popularised by Lukacs:
I’m often unable to listen to music, it gets on my nerves, I would like to stroke my fellow beings and whisper sweet nothings in their ears for being able to produce such beautiful things in spite of the abominable hell they are living in. However, today one shouldn’t caress anybody - for people will only bite off your hand; strike, without pity, although theoretically we are against any kind of violence. Umph, it is, in fact, an infernally difficult task!”
provoked, I believe, by listening to Beethoven's Appassionata.
What makes you think marxists believe "birth, old age, sickness, death, separation from the liked, and association with the disliked" are caused by capitalism?
They don't. In so far as they deal with ravages, those ravages are held to be the product of economic circumstances. The young Marx was interested in more indeterminately alienating aspects of human life, but they became increasingly linked to capitalism as his writings progressed. The last two of the Buddha's list would presumably be dealt with by saying that capitalism prevented many people from enjoying themselves and caused widespread immiseration and alienation, but as far as I know, materialist philosophy has no solution for birth, old age, sickness, and death, and so tends to leave them alone.
What is the connection between Marxism and the article?
An article which talks of "the ravages of capitalism", claims that society is unjust, and talks approvingly of "revolutionary action" and how "political and economic frameworks... shape how we live" could not have been written without an understanding of Marxism.

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mikenz66
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:14 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:46 pm
An article which talks of "the ravages of capitalism", claims that society is unjust, and talks approvingly of "revolutionary action" and how "political and economic frameworks... shape how we live" could not have been written without an understanding of Marxism.
I'm not so sure about that. The shortcomings of our current political and economic systems (in essentially every country) are blindingly obvious to anyone who pays attention. They don't need to know the historical Marxist and Capitalist analytical theories to see the problems. It's not "capitalism" or "marxism" that's the problem, it's fundamental stuff: greed, aversion and delusion.

In the specific case of secular mindfulness, it does often appear to be taught as a way of simply making the best of poor conditions. When I had a position of responsibility I used to mention at meetings that we should not be using "wellness techniques" as a panacea. That reducing stress in our workplace required the removal of some of the very obvious external sources of stress. Actually, my boss was already quite keen to do that, though I'm not sure she's been particularly successful (neither was I in my group!).

My hope is that the wide exposure of mindfulness will at least help a few people find truly useful solutions to their internal and/or external problems. It is, at least, an advance on "just toughing it out", as it does provide some space for reflection.

:heart:
Mike

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Sam Vara
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by Sam Vara » Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:50 pm

mikenz66 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:14 pm
Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 8:46 pm
An article which talks of "the ravages of capitalism", claims that society is unjust, and talks approvingly of "revolutionary action" and how "political and economic frameworks... shape how we live" could not have been written without an understanding of Marxism.
I'm not so sure about that. The shortcomings of our current political and economic systems (in essentially every country) are blindingly obvious to anyone who pays attention. They don't need to know the historical Marxist and Capitalist analytical theories to see the problems. It's not "capitalism" or "marxism" that's the problem, it's fundamental stuff: greed, aversion and delusion.
The shortcomings are blindingly obvious, for sure, but my point is that the political discourse used to discuss those shortcomings is invariably informed by Marxist theory. They are obvious because Marx wrote as he did. One can feel unhappy or stressed by work, but if you want to talk about how political and economic frameworks are responsible, then you will need to use the ideas of Marx or his followers. There isn't any revolutionary critique of capitalism as a determining factor of how we live that isn't inspired by Marx. I'm not talking about "Marxist and capitalist analytical theories" as alternatives here; more about Marx as a critical theorist of capitalism. For Marx, greed and delusion are superstructural; ideological products of the way capitalism works, rather than being fundamental to our misery.
In the specific case of secular mindfulness, it does often appear to be taught as a way of simply making the best of poor conditions. When I had a position of responsibility I used to mention at meetings that we should not be using "wellness techniques" as a panacea. That reducing stress in our workplace required the removal of some of the very obvious external sources of stress.
Yes, I absolutely agree, and I had exactly the same issues with my team. It was obvious that work was making people sick and dissatisfied, rather than the maladaptive responses of the workers themselves. My view is that if there is a panacea, then it's retirement!

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mikenz66
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Re: The mindfulness conspiracy

Post by mikenz66 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:02 pm

Sam Vara wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 9:50 pm
The shortcomings are blindingly obvious, for sure, but my point is that the political discourse used to discuss those shortcomings is invariably informed by Marxist theory. ...
Political discourses in circles who think those theories are useful use them, sure. But it all seems rather quaint and irrelevant to me, like the British Empire, or the Soviet Union... But of course, you can read whatever theories you like into a situation or a movement, be it political, behavioural, game theoretical, etc.

Anyway, my point was that all systems, including the non-capitalist and supposedly-no-capitalist systems seem to have (had) most of the same problems... The root cases are greed, etc, not the political philosophy used to justify it. If more people saw through those causes, I suspect that would be an improvement.

:heart:
Mike

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