I couldn’t say it better than this article from Salon, Corporate Mindfulness is Bullshit: Zen or No Zen, You’re Working Harder and Getting Paid Less.
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This is an important post. I paste my comments from it on facebook.
Yes, this is what’s going on. I have to say that some aspects of the brand Mindfulness in its early years, are very helpful. The body scan, where you lie down or sit and scan mentally through your body to see what sensations are there helps insomniacs sleep. I use it as part of my sleep hygiene and it really improved my sleep and I know that to be the case. But Mindfulness as it’s being sold now, as sort of a panacea, all you need to feel ‘better’, or a way to think yourself rich is bad. In this way, it ends up being just more delusion, escapism and distraction.
“I couldn’t say it better than…” Actually, Brad, you just did. Your abbreviated title, “Corporate Mindfullness is Bullshit,” is really all that needs to be said. The Salon article is a verbose exercise in “us vs. them.”
Actually, “McMindfulness” is far more succinct and clever.
Is it surprising the religion of Capitalism uses forms incomprehensible to those believing money is a form of “Grace”?
Hardcore Zen IS good fertilizer.^^
“And he abides independent, not clinging to anything in the world”
He/she abides independent not clinging to anything in the world. No one, no self, no agent, no one observing the mind or body.
No commercial mindfulness where a self/agent observes the contents of the mind coming and going in order to become a ” better ” mind, self, person, consumer, employee, lover.
“The Buddha begins by declaring that breath
meditation brings to perfection the four focuses of mindfulness, and finally singling it out for special mention.”
‘… Bhikkhu Bodhi, an outspoken Western Buddhist monk, has warned: “absent a sharp social critique, Buddhist practices could easily be used to justify and stabilize the status quo, becoming a reinforcement of consumer capitalism”’
That’s interesting. Buddhist practice requires a sharp social critique, or it could become a reinforcement of consumer capitalism.
I guess the drift of the Salon article is that mindfulness as described in the Pali Canon requires a sharp social critique to avoid becoming just another capitalist tool for suppressing the masses. Zen centers that do not include a sharp social critique may therefore be at risk of becoming capitalist tools for suppressing the masses, to the extent that they encourage the practice of mindfulness.
Gautama described the concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths as a particular instance of mindfulness of the body, the feelings, the mind, and the mental states; he described it as his way of life, not as his practice. I think there’s a difference, and I think as a way of life it’s not necessary to couple the teaching with a sharp social critique; that takes care of itself.
Yours truly and friends:
Great links here to read up on! Thanks commentators.
“Gautama described the concentration on in-breaths and out-breaths as a particular instance of mindfulness of the body, the feelings, the mind, and the mental states; he described it as his way of life, not as his practice. I think there’s a difference, and I think as a way of life it’s not necessary to couple the teaching with a sharp social critique; that takes care of itself.”
I like that.
On the sharp social critique front.
Wow, quite an historical overview in that link to anapanasati!
bojjhaňgas & Chemirocha, now we’re getting somewhere… let’s dance!
” ‘Space is infinite, one enters & abides in the field of infinite space.’ Usually translators would say something like: ‘Aware that “Space is infinite”, one enters & abides in the field of infinite space.’ Obviously here the meditator has passed well beyond thinking or noting anything”
Or the field of infinite space enters and abides the meditator was momentarily ago.
Someone was meditating in this world. Was it McMindful for money? Or was no one just sitting?
And now the sharp social critique of DMT. Look ma, no hands. Not even the empty one holding the hoe handle.
Hoe handle, hoe handle, where for art thou?
I’m here on the bridge with the ox over the Sengawa
Master “Lazy” Can (pronounced “Tsan”) dwelt in seclusion in a stone grotto on Mount Heng. Emperor Suzong of Tang heard of his name and sent an emissary to summon him. The emissary went to his grotto and made the announcement, “The Emperor has a command; you should rise and give thanks for his favor, Reverend.” Just then Can poked into his ox-dung fire, took out a baked yam and ate it; cold nose-water dripped from his chin. He did not answer at all.
The emissary laughed and said, “I suggest that you wipe off that snot, Reverend.”
Can said, “What leisure time do I have to wipe snot for a worldly man?”
After all he never arose. The emissary returned and reported this to the Emperor. Suzong praised him highly. Someone so pure and calm, so clear and direct as this, is not at the disposal of others; he just holds still, as though made of cast iron. It is just like the case of Master Shandao, who after the purge never again became a monk; people called him lithe stone-grotto worker.” Whenever he tread the pestle, he forgot the movement of his footsteps. A monk asked Linji, “What is the essential meaning of the stone grotto worker’s forgetfulness of the movement of his footsteps?” Linji said, “Drowned in a deep spring.”
Water isn’t formed by being ladled into a bucket
Simply the water of the whole Universe has been ladled into a bucket
The water does not disappear because it has been scattered over the ground
It is only that the water of the whole Universe has been emptied into the whole Universe
Life is not born because a person is born
The life of the whole Universe has been ladled into the hardened “idea” called “I”
Life does not disappear because a person dies
Simply, the life of the whole Universe has been poured out of this hardened “idea” of “I” back into the universe
Religious folk hate it when their religion gets watered down. Cuz it feels less meaningful. It is less meaningful.
What do you mean by ‘meaning’? The whole semantic field of meaning ‘meaning’, or just good old Sinn und Bedeutung, for example. Meaning of meaning please, or it didn’t happen.
What even is the purpose of meaning?
This is by far, the very worst comment thread that this blog has ever had.
Would some Fred Jr. buzzing help?
bzzzz zzzz zzz bzzzzzz bzzzzz bzzzz… yum yum !!
These are not the commentators you’re looking for. They can go about their business.
“The empty hand grasps the hoe handle”- I write because I forget what I need to know, in spite of everything. How can that be!
I have to stumble on what I wrote like a drunk stumbles on his front door, reading it accidentally. What a strange thing. “Loving our time by way of the senses, by way of the body”; 151 proof.
I think the concern Grand Canyon is that mindfulness will lead to people cooking super rice and brewing powerful tea.
Indeed, Brad believes that you gotta have the ethics to use the Zen Powers for good rather than evil…
Apparently if you drink the Kool-Aid long enough you can believe just about anything.
Father, may we have the lemon-lime koolaid tonight? The grape you like best gives me migraines.
If you finish your homework.
You’ve got to have ethics to do ANYTHING for good rather than evil. I would have thought this was obvious.
I think he meant you gotta have good (Buddhist) ethics.
Tibetan Buddhism places a lot of emphasis on training in love and compassion and reducing egotism. I’m not saying this to elevate Tibetan Buddhism over other religions, it’s just because it’s what I’m most familiar with. And I hope it’s not to egotistical too say that the training has helped me.
Although it’s possible some atheists somewhere devote equal attention to ethical training, from what I can see it’s not a general practice.
A lot of people think that religion is something you believe. I don’t agree. Religion is a discipline, something you DO. Just believing Zen is cool or Brad is right might get Brad gigs, but it can hardly be called Zen.
Something like that GC…
Ultimate classic rock tonglen
Perhaps you meant to ask, “what is the purpose of shared meaning?”
There are UNshared meanings?
Oh really. Name five.
If I share them then… hay, you’re trying to trick me.
When I listened to the audio of Kobun’s lecture on enlightenment at a one-day sitting in Santa Cruz, I had an increasing feeling of well-being, toward the close of the talk. But we were there to listen to and discuss his words, nobody seemed to feel like dancing; ok.
The anapanasati analysis and translation I linked to was interesting, for the number of learned monks, modern and ancient, who had no rhythm– IMHO.
Rereading the analysis, I am struck by this description:
My experience is, that the activity that sustains pressure in the fluid ball (in support of posture) and the long or short of inhalation or exhalation become like the two sides of a coin. It’s not that there is no breath, it’s that the activity that supports the fluid ball is very subtle, and comprehension of the long or short in inhalation or exhalation has become necessary to the breath. I don’t experience no breath, and I don’t experience breath moving in one direction only, but I do experience a loss of momentum like a suffocation that is only resolved through the inclusion of proprioception, equalibrioception and the comprehension of the long or short of inhalation or exhalation.
There is a certain happiness in that state, which Brahmavamso touches on:
The analogy given for zest and happiness here is like a person who is very thirsty who comes upon a body of water; seeing the water produces a feeling of zest, and drinking the water produces a feeling of happiness. I think the better translation is zest and ease; it is ease that I feel when my thirst is slaked, not happiness per se. Having said that, I still find what Brahmavamso says about a happiness that is present when the activity of breath is subtle to be true, but this I would say is the happiness that marks all the meditative states, not the ease of the second.
The ease of the first and second meditative states ceases in the third (as stretch exceeds the bounds of ease, in my estimation); there is a cessation of unhappiness in the second meditative state that carries into the third, but in the fourth this happiness ceases (as the boundaries of the senses, including the mind, become distinct- again, in my estimation).
That happiness is inherent in all the meditative states, and yet the happiness arising in the second meditative state ceases in the fourth, was a contradiction Gautama accepted; he advised his followers to tell those of other traditions who questioned it, ‘that Gautama declares “whatever, wherever is of happiness to be happiness”‘. I don’t think the happiness that Brahmavamso meant to indicate the happiness that ends in the fourth meditative state, but rather the one that’s present in all the meditative states.
Maybe less like two sides of a coin, and more like the twist in the mobius strip, but when comprehension of the long or short in inhalation or exhalation allows the breath to take place, a trance state exists and there is a certain happiness. In this I agree with Brahmavamso.
As ordinary as cooking rice or drinking tea? “Loving our time by way of the senses, by way of the body”.
should be: “I don’t think Brahmavamso meant to indicate the happiness that ends in the fourth meditative state, but rather the one that’s present in all the meditative states.”
Religion doesn’t require discipline, but it is something you do, like rituals and stuff. And it certainly requires belief. Of course true believers don’t consider it belief, because they believe it (whatever) is true.
“A lot of people think that religion is something you believe. I don’t agree. Religion is a discipline, something you DO.” LOL what?
Religion is whatever people claim it to be.
Meditation can be a discipline, believing in the words written down 500 years after the life of a Buddha is part of a belief system.
Nothing wrong with belief systems.
You’ve missed the point of why people believe. People believe in Buddhism because it gives them a framework to understand their experience, here and now, regardless of who wrote it.
And ethics, if you take it seriously, is a discipline that is more difficult to apply than daily meditation.
If you think religion is just “rituals and stuff,” you’ve missed the point, not only of Zen, but every religion. Or maybe this is just your way of trivializing what you don’t agree with.
The point of religion is meaning, essentially. That’s the only thing it’s required to offer.
Chairman of the board:
Chapter Five (you’ll have to look for it since we can’t drop more than one link here at a time) is well worth studying; a simple, profound practice.
Looks like there was an earlier translation of the whole book, under a different title, which is available here.
Volume V, which Sayadaw says was written in common language without references for regular folks, is this pdf: mahasi_sayadaw-vipassana_treatise_volume_ii_part_i.pdf
Sayadaw bases his book on the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, says it’s in keeping with the Visuddhimaga, and recommends sitting Burmese style (surprise).
My personal take is that the Southeast Asians are reconstituting Gautama’s teaching from the Pali Canon, coupled with interpretations that have been handed down in the lineages. I consider the Visuddhimaga to be one such set of interpretations, and I suspect the teaching in Anapanasati represents Gautama’s mature teaching, while Satipatthana was early. I think that because Gautama described Anapanasati as his way of living, as a thing perfect in itself, and as the best of ways; he did not describe the teaching in Satipatthana that way, although it certainly provides a wider look at Gautama’s meaning.
A Zen teacher’s every action reflects his or her Zen, wouldn’t you agree?
On that basis, Zen is “what you do”.
Do actions follow from beliefs? I’ve argued that here for a long time, based on my personal experience. It’s not enough to throw logic and science overboard and try to go with the “strong and silent” types, the John, Jack and Jane Waynes of Zen, here in the West; we have been raised with faith in science, the evidence of the veracity of the scientific method is all around us, and we are called upon by none other than Gautama himself to only take as true that which we have established for ourselves.
That which we believe is true at some point becomes our action, without intention, without the need of any exercise of volition. That is why we are engaged in dialogue here on the edge of the world, on Brad’s blog, to sort it out as best we can- n’est–ce pas?
American Buddhists are big fucking whiners, whining about everything with their whininess. “Corporate mindfulness, bad! Teachers having sex, bad! Teachers making money, really, really bad!” Other countries aren’t like this. Brad should start doing whinefulness-based attack-therapy retreats. Why work on yourself when there’s so much to whine about?
(I’m whining about the whiners, I know.)
Indeed, this is how the crusty old zen master letch is able to grope the believers. Belief makes action possible.
“That which we believe is true at some point becomes our action, without intention, without the need of any exercise of volition. ”
Action in the Gudo realm is just sitting and what comes is what comes.
A self believes that something is true. That which arrives without exercise of volition doesn’t have a belief, an idea or a self as its source.
So what then is the source of instinct or habit? It doesn’t matter. Beliefs can shape habit, in good ways and in bad ways.
Star in the East meets Infinite Potential
It always surprises me when I say I’ve seen something and someone who’s never met me says that I haven’t. How can you be so sure?
Meditation on loving kindness is a part of all Buddhist traditions and can be found in the Pali suttas.
I first noticed the practice was working when I watched a news report on people exterminating rats in a vacant city lot. One of the rats made a run for it and got smashed by a heavy object. I let out a spontaneous “uhhh!” Needless to say my upbringing did not lead me to feel sympathy for rats. But there it was, a genuine feeling of love and compassion, not just for the nice, sweet and agreeable, but also for vermin.
It’s normal to feel sympathy for animals killed in the way you describe. Apparently your practice has helped you reach a point of normalcy. That’s good.
It’s hard to imagine any kind of enlightenment without extraordinary compassion, insight into the ultimate emptiness of phenomena naturally leads to compassion for the tremendous sufferings of conditioned existence, but it’s generating that intense compassion in the first place that loosens the heart knots preventing the kind of complete awakening demonstrated by the Buddha. Bodhichitta is the sweetest sound there is, if you have the ear to hear.
Sorry if im going all Tibetan on you here Zafu, I think what im trying to say is that intentionally cultivating compassion may produce “high-amplitude gamma-oscillations in the brain”.
Oh Father, I do miss the old normal days we had. You and Moms chanting sutras in the kitchen while our incontinent (but lovable) cat “Billy” yowled in the bathroom. Nowadays all you do is sit at the computer in your food stained kesa, pounding the keys in frustration, muttering “meaning, you fools, meaning…” Come back, Father, zen will forgive.
I forgot, what’s a kesa?
Silly Father, google is your friend. And give your loyal son a big kesa on the lips tonight.
Oh God, the doctors said that wouldn’t start until you were older.
I have found that working on my ability to feel compassion has altered my thoughts and behaviour radically. It is is still something I have to keep working on but it is better than not working on it.
I can’t imagine what is wrong with thinking about and actively working in my life on having more compassion and kindness towards any living thing.
And no one else is the expert on my experiences.
You must have been a very bad girl before your radical transformation.
Whoa, slow down a sec, so what’s what here. Are people imaginary selves, are they real people in real spacetime, are they biochemical processes, all of the above? If emotion is just a biochemical response and other ‘real’ people are just imagined selves then it’s really all in your mind now isn’t it, or is it not? What’s in a mind anyway, leptons and quarks? Do you need to roll with someone immediately in your vicintity to experience empathy or compassion towards them that isn’t meta metta mental… Do ‘I’ have it all backwards?
It’s a little ironic that it’s some of those magical thinking Tibetan Buddhist meditators doing the solo beaming love meditations that show the most profound neurological changes in areas of the brain associated with feelings of compassion and love. Even from a physicalist perspective, they might be on to something rather than just on something…
“Of course true believers don’t consider it belief, because they believe it (whatever) is true.”
Oh goodness gracious, is it all about the belief of meaning? Or the meaning of belief? Maybe the belief of belief? The meaning of meaning? I’m getting terrible dizzy again, Father.
I’ll fetch an LSD laced juice box. It will give you religious visions. You’ll love it!
Not the Juice Box, Father! I promise I’ll be good. They make me awful sleepy and when I wake up next day stuff just don’t feel right.
“Meditation on loving kindness is a part of all Buddhist traditions and can be found in the Pali suttas.”
Meditation on loving kindness, the metta meditation, I don’t think is based on the first four Nikayas; these are the ones considered to most accurately reflect the teachings of the Gautamid, so far as I know. Might be based on the fifth. (have we done this dance before, Jinzang?) The loving kindness thing I think is a development of the last two centuries, in Southeast Asia in particular.
That said, extension of the mind of friendliness, of compassion, of sympathetic joy, and of equanimity is all over the first four volumes.
Dude, whatta McRag of an article. Why you even pay attention to such McNonesense as McMindfullness(although, I like the term McMindfullness. I might use that in the future as to counteract a McFuture lol!) But really , what a lame artical. Why pay attention to such nonsense?
Regardless of whether one is a religiously or secularly oriented practitioner, mindfulness is nothing less than a practice of faith…What a load of crap lol!
Have you ever seen a beneficial outcome of an oil spill in a sea? It never mixes. Ppl and up cleaning up the mess for ages to come.
Why even pollute a sea of wisdom with this rag that is attempting to mix oil and water?
Although, Dharma doors are boundless. Anyone can entre anyone of them at anytime if they cultivate something of value. They can transcended the self.
The most I can say is that I agree with the Avatamasaka sutra over Dogen in regards to the direction of the Dharma Wheel.
I believe the Dharma Wheel only turns in one direction. I vow to realize it.
Have you seen any zen masters like Dogen or Linji being produced by today’s mindfulness movement? I haven’t. An army of Linji’s working on Wall Street whose powers have been twisted to the dark side, now that would be something to worry about. Perhaps we tend to over estimate the value of meditation. Most people are doing it wrong and they’ll never really get anywhere with it. If Mindfulness doesn’t do much of anything for your average Buddhist meditator what makes you think it’s going to turn your cubicle man into a super concentrated company foot soldier?
That article is overly cynical. Sure, some corporations may be using mindfulness for the wrong reasons, but not all of them are. There is some good being done, some people being helped.
TGC, It almost seems like you are implying that anyone who doesn’t buy into your naive realist shtick is probably a law of attraction crazy person. I guess it’s true that we are all naive up to a certain point…
I suggest: Corporate mindfulness can be (big!) bullshit. But perhaps it got some potential to really change some unhealthy economic perspective in providing practicing individuals with some subversive insights and the courage to act on these..would be very badly needed by all of us..
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