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Yuppie Buddhists?

Submitted without a lot of comment because all I could do was shake my head.

http://www.wired.com/business/2013/06/meditation-mindfulness-silicon-valley/
Jeffrey

Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    As before, Meng’s voice lowers and slows to a crawl. And, of course, we close our eyes. “When you breathe in, breathe in all that goodness into your heart. Using your heart, multiply that goodness by 10,” he says, in a variation on a Tibetan Tonglen exercise. “When you breathe out, send all that goodness to the whole world. And if it’s useful to you, you may visualize yourself breathing out white light—brilliant white light—representing this abundance of goodness.” We exhale. I actually feel a buzzing on the underside of my skull as I try to imagine pure love. For a minute, I forget that we’re in a room ordinarily reserved for corporate presentations.
    Either the reporter goofed or this guy doesn't understand tonglen. Tonglen is to take the burdens of everyone else for yourself and then send to the suffering being who is the benefactor of the tonglen. The article says to take in goodness and then turn it into sublime love. This sounds more like metta practice to me.
  • edited June 2013
    I think it's a good idea. It sure can't hurt for the world to be more mindful.
    I'd like to see meditation/mindfulness practice done in more schools as well.
  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran
    There are yuppie Buddhists among us! (which is okay)
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Google has hosted several Buddhists to talk about and teach meditation and you can see them on YouTube. Thich Naht Hahn, Mattieu Ricard, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, Jon Kabbat Zinn, Richard Davidson.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=google+talk+meditation&oq=google+talk+meditation&gs_l=youtube.3...1704.7852.0.8118.22.20.0.2.2.0.130.1724.18j2.20.0...0.0...1ac.1.11.youtube.6JZjKzZGwJk
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    because all I could do was shake my head
    We perfect Buddhists [ahem . . .] who know the real path [whatever that may be] started somewhere. Everybody starts from somewhere less than perfect.
    Bravo Google. Don't be evil, do good.
    Power to the evil empire.
    Go Buddha. Go Dharma. Go Google Yuppy Sangha. :clap:
    dhammachick
  • It does beat the heck out of the old TM meditation classes, I suppose. When I was stationed at the Pentagon, I attended meditation sessions in a room in the basement. We had to petition the resident Chaplain office for the space. The leader of the group was into new age type stuff I wasn't interested in. I just wanted a quiet room to meditate in. I understood that what we were doing wasn't Buddhism, but what the heck.
  • @Cinorjer
    Cinorjer said:

    It does beat the heck out of the old TM meditation classes, I suppose.

    Yes it does. As a high school freshman I got involved with a TM group. It was the first time I heard of om, or more properly aum. Anyway, little did I know that to meditate on om is to meditate on the ineffable, unmanifest, nirguna Brahman. Om is not to be taken lightly. It's said (I can find the source) that very few people can and should use it as a mantra because of its effects. That is, meditating on the unmanifest can kind of upset your view of things.
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    but what the heck
    Indeed.
    My cousin did TM, he might be a Catholic or even totally non committed now . . .
    People are cyclic and few have the stamina, will power and life circumstances to be a Pentagon Buddhist, TM yogic flyer or free range dervish.

    OMYAHAHUM
    as we heretics chant . . . :om:
  • GlowGlow Veteran
    edited June 2013
    In the Pali suttas, the Buddha and his crew were often invited to stay on the vast grounds and gardens of rich householders. He didn't mind imparting a little dhamma on the wealthy. Yuppie Buddhism, going strong for 2,500 years.
    lobsterCinorjerInvincible_summerperson
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    Cinorjer said:

    Submitted without a lot of comment because all I could do was shake my head.

    http://www.wired.com/business/2013/06/meditation-mindfulness-silicon-valley/

    Cant see a problem myself. If I were a less charitable cove I might conclude that those Buddhists who despise wealth ( who are mostly westerners ) do so because they have no choice, not being suited to its generation and fearful of the responsibility it brings.
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited June 2013
    Citta said:

    Cinorjer said:

    Submitted without a lot of comment because all I could do was shake my head.

    http://www.wired.com/business/2013/06/meditation-mindfulness-silicon-valley/

    Cant see a problem myself. If I were a less charitable cove I might conclude that those Buddhists who despise wealth ( who are mostly westerners ) do so because they have no choice, not being suited to its generation and fearful of the responsibility it brings.
    I couldn't care less about the people having high paying jobs or how much money someone has. I suppose there might be folks around who despise wealth, or think the scramble for wealth is incompatible with the Dharma. I'm not one.

    I also think it's great that a company provides a bit of training in meditation for stress reduction. But, I've seen too many of these corporate sponsored attempts to create a happy, productive workforce. There is a huge industry built up to sell corporations a structured set of retreats and classes and lectures where the worker is presented with pop psychology and team building exercises. This is just the same old deal.

    See, the entire attitude that pervades this article is that these people are special and live special lives and have a more stressful job than other people. I've lived that lifestyle and seen firsthand the self-delusion of importance that is actually at the core of their misery. You want real stress? Try holding a stack of bills and knowing that low paying part time job isn't going to pay all of them and the car has bald tires and is starting to blow black smoke out of the exhaust and the landlord just said he's raising the rent. That's real stress. Your little problems with meeting deadlines and wondering what private school you should send your kids to? Give me a break.

    "All the woo-woo mystical stuff, that’s really retrograde,” says one of the meditation teachers as he dismisses most of what Buddhism has to offer. Since retrograde means moving contrary to the direction one is currently heading, as in changing course, isn't that exactly what the Dharma has to offer?

    No, I shook my head because this company might as well be handing out valium pills for all the good they're doing. Meditation can relieve stress a bit. It's better than alcohol or beating the dog, I suppose. But if all you want is to relieve stress, it's better to do a bit of exercise at the gym.
    MaryAnneInvincible_summer
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    How do you know what the participants are experiencing ?
    Invincible_summer
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    Good for google employees. this is a business move that have can have positive side effects on its staff. for once, the corporate world is starting to see that you can get more in return if you give more in the first place. The golden rule? also it recognizes emotions, which is uber rare in the corporate world. its not budfhism, exactly, but none of us know exactly what budfhism is, anyways. i have mostly been extremely weary of any corporate structure because they discount the humanness of the work. but google is recognizing this cant continue in his manner if it really wants to grow outwardly. what are our conceptual limitations? we will see.....
    Jeffreylobster
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran
    @Cinorjer -- Pick a persuasion, any persuasion, and I'll show you a nest of dilettantes... half-baked, talk-the-talk, skim-the-surface, putting-good-things-to-corrupt-uses nitwits. How can I be so sure of this? Because, beyond any shadow of a doubt, I have been that nitwit and may yet do so again. I am not eating looks-kool, gracious humble pie here ... just stating a fact I am not especially proud of.

    Nitwits are annoying people. I don't choose to hang out with them if I can help it. But that's just because I have a little first-hand experience. They'll either grow out of it or they won't... in their own time and on their own terms. It may be that they will find a more fulfilling truth in that to which they currently pay only lip service. Or, maybe nitwit-dom will be too alluring.

    Either way, I try to keep my nitwit in check ... which, of course, is not saying I'm always successful. :)
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    @Cinorjer a whole host of scientific studies dispute your claim that "meditation can relieve stress a bit." There are people who practice meditation solely for medical/psychological benefits. Just because for us it is part of a religious/spiritual practice does not mean others cannot benefit greatly from using it for other things. I know people who do not practice Buddhism or anything close to it, who practice meditation for health reasons alone and have gotten so much benefit out of it that they were able to get off their meds. I think that implying that it has little benefit unless you are practicing it the way we do is a bit short-sighted. Perhaps that is not what you meant and I am reading it badly.

    http://io9.com/how-meditation-changes-your-brain-and-makes-you-feel-b-470030863
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213092309.htm

    It does not offend me, or bother me in the least that they are introducing it in the corporate world. In fact, I think the benefits will be great for all of us, more mindfulness in producing products and a clearer mind can only help. Good for them. Meditation and it's benefits are not limited to religious practice.
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited June 2013
    I understand that my rather cynical outlook isn't shared by most. I also know that many people will disagree with me on the how limited I see the health benefits of meditation. Sure, people who sit down and relax lower their blood pressure for a while. I came from a meditation-heavy practice and except for bad knees, it didn't do me any harm. I can't say the many people I know who meditate are any healthier than an average cross-section of the population, though. For monks, it's different. I suspect the old monks owe their health more to a better diet than meditation, but I may be wrong.

    I just see the way they're going about it here as nonproductive. Or should that be counter-productive? The quotes say it all. They demand results. If they invest an hour sitting in meditation, these driven people damned well better get something in return! And in the end, they might be a bit happier in their jobs, but what does that mean to the world? Maybe the jobs they're doing and the life they're leading should be getting in the way of their happiness.

    But now I'm sounding way too cynical. At least their company is investing a few dollars into programs to help the workers. That's the amazing part of this story. Don't those silicon valley companies know it's all about getting the most disposable labor for the least cost anymore, and employees are an expense to be outsourced instead of a resource to be developed?
  • GlowGlow Veteran
    edited June 2013
    @Cinorjer, you may be familiar with his work, but in case you aren't, you may like Slavoj Zizek's criticisms of [the Western appropriation of] Buddhism as the perfect handmaiden to radical capitalism: http://www.egs.edu/faculty/slavoj-zizek/articles/the-buddhist-ethic-and-the-spirit-of-global-capitalism/

    Personally, I'm not sure what to think yet. On one hand, I see the Buddha's disquieting existential questions subsiding into a form of quietism in which people simple retreat into jhanic bliss or pay trite lip service to the idea of compassion and kindness as a form of escapism or emotional cauterization to the injustice, suffering, and corruption woven into our systems and lifestyles. (<-Wow, run-on sentence!) If there is one common denominator to progress it is consciousness.

    We need people to become <i>more conscious, rather than simply inured to and distracted from what is really happening around them. Can Kabat-Zinn-style mindfulness facilitate consciousness? Having read Kabat-Zinn's original work, I find it quite humane, thoughtful, and, yes, conscious. I think there are a lot of meditationteachers who, like Kabat-Zinn, are acting in good faith and trying to impart some more consciousness (and wake people out of mindlessness) into the secular sphere. Let's face it: not everyone will resonate with Buddhism, and that's perfectly fine.

    But the more disingenuous appropriations that have come afterward that aim to ameliorate any sense of existential angst (or even low-level stress) rather than bring consciousness to the First Noble Truth of dukkha... it's hard to get behind that. It castrates the Buddha, and robs him of his sometimes strident and unsettling voice.
    Invincible_summer
  • MaryAnneMaryAnne Veteran
    edited June 2013
    I don't think you sound overly cynical, @Cinorjer... I think you're just seeing this particular meditation 'practice' for what it is- a way to keep worker bees happy; because happy bees make happy honey (profits) for the Queen Bee (employer).

    LOL Ok, so maybe that IS a touch cynical. But I happen to agree. ;-)

    Hey, I also think there's really nothing wrong with using meditation as a means of relaxation, de-stressing or for whatever positive outcome is desired. But let's be real (cynical?) about it and not pretend it's all about any sort of Buddhist "spirituality" or philosophy in situations like this. It's about the company's bottom line. (That, and maybe avoiding that disgruntled, stressed out employee with a huge gun collection going over the edge).
    Invincible_summer
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013
    The thought strikes me that if just one in twenty employees are inspired to go on to pursue meditation in a deeper way, then it will be a happy and positive example of unintended consequences. And I would suggest that is much more likely than if the company took them paintballing....for example.
    It is a fact that many can attest to that quite often the fruits of meditation happen DESPITE our original and naive motivations.
    Cinorjer
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    So there aren't any alterior motives behind this corporate practice. They blatently say that this is about improving business. Which is fine because Buddhism doesn't own the monopoly of meditation anymore than a The Roman Catholic church owns a monopoply on prayer or an Army owns the monoploly on killing people. Meditation is a vehicle. The driver is still responsible for navigating that vehicle. And if an employee attains enlightenment on the clock, will google own their enlightenment? Impossible, even with the high priced lawyers they surely employ.
    VastmindCinorjerCittaperson
  • The problem that I have with it is the hypocrisy of the employers who say they wish to promote mindfulness and relaxation while at the same time making sure that their employees are carrying the workload of two or three people each, are constantly multitasking, forced to work unpaid overtime, answer emails and phone calls after hours, etc.

    It's like they are saying, "Oh we care about your health and we will provide you with this service, maybe even a meditation room" while at the same time working their employees to death.

    I realize that each company is forced to act this way due to the intensively competitive business world they operate in - no individual company can decide to break the mold and not work their employees so hard because, like it or not, we are now all trapped in this viscous global economy. It really rubs me the wrong way, though - like when conservative politicians go on and on about family values while promoting an economy where both parents are forced to work in order to survive, are stressed, overworked, and the family unit is destroyed.

    /rant over
    Invincible_summerBeejCinorjer
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran
    There are many, many employees who would kill to have a job at Google because of the extensive benefits and caring nature of the company. I don't work there, so I can't say it's true, but they consistently make every list of good places to work for for those reasons. One could do worse these days than work for Google, I think. Overall, I agree with the consensus that people overwork their employees all to make a bit more profit. But Google seems to buck that trend a bit. Not saying they aren't after profit, of course. But keeping employees sane and happy goes a long ways in many departments.

    And while I agree with the myth of multi-tasking, I am a fan of efficiency and nothing drives me crazier than someone who moves the speed of a slug and cannot well use the free moments in order to keep things moving efficiently. One can pay attention well to one activity at-hand and still move at a decent pace and with some mindfulness to things around them as well as just their own space. Not much drives me crazier than the person at the grocery store who has $250 worth of items in their cart and stands there while the items are scanned and bagged, and only at the end, do they bother to search their duffle-bag sized purse for their checkbook and write out the check. Not everyone has all day to stand in line at the store, lol. (can you tell that happened to me today? Yes, I need to work on my patience but other people need to work on some things, too, lol)
  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited June 2013
    How likely is it that the world will return to a pre-industrial agrarian age in the near future. ?.( a question not intended to elicit papanca about future dystopias btw )
    All times and all eras and all means of earning a crust are characterised , like all sentient life, by Dukkha. It just takes different forms. There was no golden age .
    riverflow
  • BeejBeej Human Being Veteran
    i worked in a preschool that overworked me, and they were as far from corporate as any institution i've ever worked. "higher ups" just love to step on people's spirit, especially if they dont share that spirit. but google is saying "hey, lets share some spirit"...... this is a better working condition to 'point and click' than i had to 'raise people's children for them'. dont forget to see the forest for the trees because the trees are pissed off and they make up your precious forest.

    okay...... deep breath in..... and out...... okay, okay..... time to let it go...... :)
    rivercane
  • black_teablack_tea Explorer
    I understand the cynicism about corporate culture and it's tendency to do weird things in the name of team building, becoming more efficient etc etc. I used to be a data entry peon at a large financial institution, and they were always trying to find ways to team build -- this usually meant some kind of forced socialization which drove me batty as I am not an extrovert. They also expected ridiculous hours out of their employees and seemed to have the belief that everyone should be willing to work till they dropped and be happy about it. My mother can still (some years later) describe the abject awefulness of staff workshops that were centered around the book 'Who Moved My Cheese.' I've had my lifetime fill of BS-y managers whose attempts at cheerleading felt like a definite insult to my (and everyone else's) intelligence. There are times when it really feels like people in management positions at best are utterly disconnected from their employees and all common sense or at worst see their employees as being incredibly stupid.

    All that being said... that doesn't mean that every attempt at creating a happy, healthy(er), more efficient workforce has no value. Sure, companies are motivated by the bottom line. If they offer wellness programs, the higher ups gets something out of it too - like employees needing to take less sick days, and of course people will work better if they're physically feeling good. But just because the company as a whole profits doesn't mean that the workforce doesn't. If a smoking cessation or weightloss causes more people to be healthier, then great! Same with stress reduction techniques -- and studies seem to show that activities such as meditation can really help people. And you can't know that all the employees will be too results driven to get anything out of it, or that it isn't helping them in some way, because you don't know them personally. Where companies get into trouble is that they aren't necessarily good at identifiying what is going to actually be useful so you can end up with some really annoying time wasting stuff.

    Another thing to consider is that some companies are just out and out crappy to work for --being a temp data entry peon at previously alluded to company had very few perks and a whole bucket load of aggravations. The culture (in my department at least) was pretty much stereotypical ridiculous corporate culture. However, some companies do treat their people well. I've worked for good places too and can tell you that they exist. I've had managers that really did genuinely care about their employees and companies who were fair about what they asked of their people and had good benefits. So as much as I sometimes want to give an across the board thumbs down to large companies and their practices, doing so ignores the fact that not all workplaces are the same.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    I'm self-employed but as I have a self loathing problem I'm terrible to work for. No breaks, haven't had a raise in years, and no one even cleans the bathroom. Workin' for the man ain't no fun. :buck:
    Cittariverflow
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