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Is the materialistic proliferation of mindfulness a boon or a hindrance to western Buddhism?

Comments

  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Good article. Makes one thoughtful about mindfulness. I'd say this is the important bit: "IBISWorld, a research company, estimates that meditation-related businesses in the United States last year generated $984 million in revenue. With so many mindful goods and services for sale, it can be easy to forget that mindfulness is a quality of being, not a piece of merchandise.

    “It’s not enough to purchase the right product to be mindful,” said Dan Harris, an ABC news anchor who chronicled his grudging embrace of meditation in a book, “10 Percent Happier.” “Mindfulness is a practice, and it’s worth doing.”

    That is, you can’t simply buy mindfulness. In its historical context, mindfulness is just one aspect of a lifelong journey to become more accepting, less judgmental and kinder to oneself and others. Even in its modern incarnation, mindfulness is best understood as a skill, one acquired through hours of sometimes uncomfortable contemplation."

    Speaking for myself, mindfulness and Buddhism of course, have been virtual lifesavers.

    RuddyDuck9
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    I think the comparison to the path yoga has taken in our society is a good model for how the mindfulness movement will likely play out. Or you could look at the way zen became a marketing term. There's a Buddhist book Zen wrapped in karma dipped in chocolate, the title of which came from a phrase in a yogurt commercial.

    I'll paraphrase something I heard from Gil Fronsdale, Buddhism needs mindfulness but mindfulness doesn't need Buddhism.

    Another way to think of it is that Buddhism is bigger than just mindfulness. Mindfulness is one of the tools Buddhism uses to apply its principles and philosophies.

    I like to think of entering Buddhism being like a funnel, wide at the entrance narrowing down as it gets deeper. So I think that the mindfulness movement widens the funnel opening which will lead to more people going deeper.

    I think a potential pitfall would be if Buddhist or mindfulness teachers forget or blur the distinction too much and the two paths become conflated.

    lobsterVastmindRuddyDuck9
  • BhikkhuJayasaraBhikkhuJayasara Bhikkhu Veteran
    edited March 2016

    I can definitely mindfully eat mayo :pleased:

    I like to think of entering Buddhism being like a funnel, wide at the entrance narrowing down as it gets deeper. So I think that the mindfulness movement widens the funnel opening which will lead to more people going deeper.

    I might have to steal this... love it @person. It's a good simile that encapsulates how I feel about the whole mindfulness industry.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @Jayantha said:
    I can definitely mindfully eat mayo :pleased:

    I like to think of entering Buddhism being like a funnel, wide at the entrance narrowing down as it gets deeper. So I think that the mindfulness movement widens the funnel opening which will lead to more people going deeper.

    I might have to steal this... love it @person. It's a good simile that encapsulates how I feel about the whole mindfulness industry.

    Sure, steal it, I stole it myself. The Buddhist Geeks use the metaphor a fair amount, I think it came from a presenter at one of their conferences but I couldn't say who exactly.

  • By golly just think of all we can do mindfully. Every action can lead to revelation. Even on the commode? I think the hucksters are indeed laughing on the way to the bank.

    RuddyDuck9
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited March 2016

    Is the materialistic proliferation of mindfulness a boon or a hindrance to western Buddhism?

    Really good question. <3
    I tend to think in terms of broad strokes and general directions. Anything going in the general direction of the far shore is as good as we can hope for. Consider the number of trump chumps, general purpose idiot advocacy and ignorance promotion by the twitterati culture ... Ay curumba. Sam Sara!

    @grackle is right. Hucksters and the samsara wheel-spin doctors need no encouragement. The mindfull need all the help available ...

    The far shore beckons ...

    person
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Is the materialistic proliferation of mindfulness a boon or a hindrance to western Buddhism?

    Only time will tell ... The Karmic clock is ticking...

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    The main problem with mindfulness is that not many people actually practice it, including a lot of western Buddhists.

    lobsterRuddyDuck9
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Ah, but who or what is being Mindful? If nobody can answer that, no wonder it's difficult to stay mindful!

    ;)

    Shoshin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It's interesting that meditation and mindfulness is such a big business. Who knew you could make a ton of money from telling people to sit down and shut up. We (Americans especially) tend to think we can't do anything without paying for a book, audiobook, dvd, or class to tell us how to do it. When really, the "fast track" would be to realize we can do it all without much help as long as we are willing to listen deeply. Of course, that is too much effort for most, so audiobooks it is, lol.

    VastmindsilverMorningstarRuddyDuck9
  • @karasti said:
    It's interesting that meditation and mindfulness is such a big business. Who knew you could make a ton of money from telling people to sit down and shut up. We (Americans especially) tend to think we can't do anything without paying for a book, audiobook, dvd, or class to tell us how to do it. When really, the "fast track" would be to realize we can do it all without much help as long as we are willing to listen deeply. Of course, that is too much effort for most, so audiobooks it is, lol.

    True, and not only in the US!
    There must be people who go from mindfulness into Buddhism. If so, that's a good thing.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It's interesting that he uses mindfulness and meditation interchangeably throughout the article. And then that he justifies his consumerism of both by buying expensive products because they are better than junk. Mayo is still mayo, some is slightly better than others, but nothing about a $5 jar of "mindful mayo" makes it better, lol.

    Some people will go deeper with their practices. Others will simply label it as anther new age fad that doesn't work because they werent' willing to put the time into it and wanted a magic pill. In either case, it all works out. People's attitudes about meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhism (among other things) won't change the core nature of any of those things. People come and go into and out of them. But that's it. They are always just there for those who seek it, never changing, no matter how much we try to put it in a box with a nice graphic, catchy name, and sell it for a high price.

    Vastmind
  • The material commercialism bunch will use anything to sell anything from Mayo to luxury cars and crackers.
    It is all surface chatter, "an inch deep and a mile wide".
    That stuff neither helps nor hinders Buddhism. The eagle is not bothered by the crows nor the lion distracted by the chatter of the monkeys.

    lobsterRuddyDuck9
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    (bit deep for this time of the mornin'....)

  • I'm guilty of blind consumerism. I had to stop myself from gathering more things to help me understand Buddhism and I still sometimes struggle with the idea of "if I just had a mala bead to wear around my wrist I would be more mindful". I think it's just years of societal programming that's going to take years to dissolve. On the other hand, I get so angry at the naked yogi's on social media that appear to have no substance to them whatsoever or the bandwagon mindful meditators talking about positive vibes and crystal energies. I see a mix of ideations with a mindfulness label and it makes my skin crawl because I know that this is what people think when I say "I'm more Buddhist than Christian". I haven't gone to an official yoga class because, after reading a really good book on what it was all about and then practicing at home, I just didn't; feel like I would find an authentic teacher and I wasn't about to pay $85 a month to breathe deeply.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    So @Lionduck are you saying that the "Good Karma" icecream that I bought from @SpinyNorman is just icecream and not good karma (like it says on the tub) ???

    Bugger!!! Where's @SpinyNorman I want my money back ....

    Swaroop
  • Well, @Shoshin, enjoy it anyway. And give thanks at the Divine Temple of the Vanilla. ;)

    ShoshinSwaroopRuddyDuck9
  • @Lionduck said:
    Well, @Shoshin, enjoy it anyway. And give thanks at the Divine Temple of the Vanilla. ;)

    And keep your mane serene and blissful too!

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @IronRabbit said:

    And keep your mane serene and blissful too!

    Thanks ....I'll put that on my shopping list :)

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    Is the materialistic proliferation of mindfulness a boon or a hindrance to western Buddhism?

    I'm going with "neither" :)

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I think a boon - it is the thin end of the wedge, although the idea of mindful products is perhaps taking things a bit far. But the practice itself is introducing mindfulness and meditation to a larger audience, and a certain number will look beyond the non-denominational beginning for a deeper path.

    RuddyDuck9
  • IronRabbitIronRabbit Veteran
    edited March 2016

    And if mayo and hair conditioner weren't snake-oily enough for those mendicant consumers, now a mindfully packaged "neuroplasticity" is trumpeted as a panacea "fer whut ails ya"..... At least the word "practice" is included 3 or four times.....I wonder as I wander at the grasping for results.....
    http://www.inc.com/shawn-murphy/this-is-what-will-help-your-wandering-mind.html

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Morningstar Look at who the teacher studied with. That gives you a good idea, if you are still interested in yoga classes. I prefer to do it at home alone because I do what I need and not just what someone else tells me. Some teachers take a yoga cert. class and become teachers but they are mostly learning just the fitness portion. If you want a whole lot of the other stuff that goes along with yoga and all it's limbs, then look for a teacher who spent some time actually training with life long practitioners and teachers in India and elsewhere. Usually they make their resumes pretty well known. Not saying someone who does their certification in LA can't have a good understanding. They may well. But they are more likely to keep it on a personal level rather than a class level.

    Of course, Bikram Choudhury was an "authentic" teacher until it all crashed down. All you can do it go by how you feel.

    All in all, yoga, meditation, mindfulness---the whole kit n kaboodle is already with us. It's nothing we can't learn just by doing, we don't need books, teachers, courses, certifications, mala beads, etc to do so. In fact, a lot of that stuff weighs us down more than help us. I went through all my books and malas etc and got rid of 95% of them. I kept my one mala that I use for my practice and had blessed by my teacher because I have to track recitations and it's the easiest way I know how, lol. I have few books anymore. I kept the very first book I ever read, and it's still my most referenced (Heart of Buddha's Teaching by TNH). The more crap we let go of, the more our ability to practice what we talk about opens up.

    MorningstarlobsterFosdick
  • SwaroopSwaroop India Veteran

    @grackle said:
    By golly just think of all we can do mindfully. Every action can lead to revelation. Even on the commode? I think the hucksters are indeed laughing on the way to the bank.

    On the commode? Sure. Why not?
    The ven. TNH our beloved Thay has a gatha for reciting in the toilet too.

    RuddyDuck9
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited April 2016

    ^^^ The mAItreyas Sangha has arrived ... gosh they are early ...

    OM YA HA HUM
    http://opcoa.st/0cscd

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    The Zen teacher Shinzen Young is building an algorithm to act as a teacher which is able to guide a student in their practice. Its not mindfulness commercialism but your robot made me think of it.

    http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/2009/01/bg-103-building-a-dharma-successor/

    lobster
  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    Okay... so I get that the goal is to go beyond the need for material possessions which weigh you down and clutter your mind, etc... but especially for someone like me, who still has quite a lot to learn and hasnt finished "heart of the Buddha's teaching" yet... I feel a bit inept at finding my own way through dhamma without any kind of teacher. As someone said earlier, I may not know the beauty of Buddhism if not for all those books and mala beads which called to me through the shop window. I'd very much rather have a physical Sangha with tutors, but I'm having a heck of a time finding one closer than 2.5 hr away from home... So for now, books it is.

    Jeffrey
  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    I agree though.... mayo and shampoo are too far

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @IronRabbit said:>

    They did pay me a hefty licence fee, I told them that "mindful" is a Buddhist trademark. :p

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    "Only In Dreams"

    You can't resist her
    She's in your bones
    She is your marrow
    And your ride home
    You can't avoid her
    She's in the air (in the air)
    In between molecules
    Of oxygen and carbon dioxide

    Only in dreams
    We see what it means
    Reach out our hands
    Hold on to hers
    But when we wake
    It's all been erased
    And so it seems
    Only in dreams

    You walk up to her
    Ask her to dance
    She says, 'Hey baby
    I just might take the chance'
    You say, 'It's a good thing
    That you float in the air (in the air)
    That way there's no way
    I will crush your pretty
    Toenails into a thousand pieces.'

    Only in dreams
    We see what it means
    Reach out our hands
    Hold on to hers
    But when we wake
    It's all been erased
    And so it seems
    Only in dreams

    Only in dreams...
    Only in dreams...
    Only in dreams...
    Only in dreams...
    Only in dreams...
    Only in dreams...

  • RuddyDuck9RuddyDuck9 MD, USA Veteran

    @Jeffrey you're on a roll with the lyrics!

  • DGADGA USA New
    edited June 2016

    Is there really such a thing as "western Buddhism"? Yes, there are Buddhists outside Asia and in "Western" contexts, and there are Buddhist-scented mindfulness-based workplace compliance projects, but it seems that these activities work toward different ends. Read Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and then read Tara Brach's True Refuge and you will see what I mean. Does it even make sense to include all these divergent programs under one umbrella, "Western Buddhism"? And if so, what criteria do you use to hold that category together? What value does it have if you do?

    MODERATOR NOTE Link removed. Constant referral to dissertation link is not necessary. Thanks.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran
    edited June 2016

    @DGA said:
    Is there really such a thing as "western Buddhism"? Yes, there are Buddhists outside Asia and in "Western" contexts, and there are Buddhist-scented mindfulness-based workplace compliance projects, but it seems that these activities work toward different ends. Read Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism and then read Tara Brach's True Refuge and you will see what I mean.

    I think you raise important points about the context and aims of Buddhist teachings. But I'd also say that Buddhism can be a big tent and that a fully formed "Western" Buddhism will probably take at least another century.

    Does it even make sense to include all these divergent programs under one umbrella, "Western Buddhism"? And if so, what criteria do you use to hold that category together? What value does it have if you do?

    My answer would be that the goal is the alleviation of suffering through the means of dispelling ignorance, anger and delusion within the context of anicca, anatta, and dukkha. IMO greater metaphysical claims regarding past and future lives or the nature of consciousness mainly serve the function of motivation rather than the direct alleviation of suffering.

    These are my current conclusions, you've probably given it more time than I have so feel free to disagree.

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