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Should the goal of mindfulness be acceptance or transformation?

personperson Where is my mind?'Merica! Veteran

Is the way mindfulness being developed and practiced in the west missing the true intent?

Comments

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    For me it means a few things rolled into one. Acceptance that there will be transformation and acceptance that we can affect transformation for good or ill.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I think he's argueing more against the Tao than against mindfulness. Mindfulness initially means developing a moment-to-moment awareness which enables one to look deeply at one's responses. It's not about blind acceptance, as I understand it, and certainly not about accepting one's nature on a larger scale than the moment-to-moment.

    I do think that mindfulness creates transformation, if practiced with enough diligence and energy. It's the kind of transformation that comes from increased knowledge of the self. Parts of Buddhism are a shortcut to this, allowing you to internalise parts of the transformation where you have the view, but not yet the concepts or clarity to reason and explore effectively.

    personupekkalobster
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I think it's like anything else with deeper meaning though. Yoga has all sorts of depths, but it still brings benefits to those who practice it only for the workout aspect. Often they find themselves wandering into those deeper aspects without desiring to do so. I think the same is true of meditation, mindfulness, or any other similar practices. They put us in touch with the many layers of our mind, sometimes whether we like it or not. So while there are some "icky" ideas of mindfulness floating around, just exposing people to it can lead to a whole other way of thinking and living. All the people selling mindfulness might not quite get it, but it doesn't mean it can't be an opportunity or a door for people to benefit from it and further it from that point.

    personupekka
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 29

    I think all that is required is seeing things as they are. But that's not the same thing as 'bare notation of senses'. So yes and no. Noticing senses can be a practice though but anyone can do it so it is not necessarily seeing things as they are. And as a practice it can be practiced together with the other necessary elements of the Buddhist path. With my teacher mindfulness is more about awareness I think than acceptance. But they can kind of blend. "oh that is just a thought".. Ok here they blend because indeed it is just a thought we notice. And it also has something to do with acceptance but also something to do with the nature of awareness. She has given some dharma talks on youtube on mindfulness but unfortunately I need to watch them again I guess as I have forgotten.

    DhammaDragon
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 29

    Who is he referring to in the video? I understood Confucious but is he referring to anyone else? Chuang tzu or someone modern?

  • vinlynvinlyn Colorado...for now Veteran

    I liked that he addressed "pop Buddhism".

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    My take was that he was talking about the way some mindfulness meditation programs without the Buddhist philosophy backing them up fall into the trap of only being about acceptance.

    For those of us with a background in Buddhism, adoption of ethical and philosophical views that can't help but transform us are part of the package.

    So I don't think that mindfulness taught distinct from Buddhism necessarily lacks transformative power but it could if taught in a certain way. How much help would a meditation practice that only helped you be alright mentally with destructive habits really be?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    I think @Kerome said it well.

    Confusion/confucious he say, 'A good robot better than bad robot' or words to that empty effect/wisdom. Lao tzu says 'meh' or nothing much to that effect.

    However ...
    The Buddha who became Chinese over the millennia but was originally from elsewhere had a different plan:

    • Formal introspection, leading to constant evaluation eventually, aka mindfulness
    • A better pattern of ideals and fetter free qualities to practice and implement
    • A range of teachings to enhance our being, free our emotional and mind nature/circumstances/karma

    Pop Chinese Buddhism, 'pop American Buddhism' and shallow fortune cookie Confucianism is the basis for mindless mindfulness, if I can put it like that.

    @person said:
    Is the way mindfulness being developed and practiced in the west missing the true intent?

    Not by me and hopefully not by any of us Buddhist types ...
    We haz The Plan!

    DhammaDragon
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    @person said:
    My take was that he was talking about the way some mindfulness meditation programs without the Buddhist philosophy backing them up fall into the trap of only being about acceptance.

    I had the feeling he was arguing in favour of Confucianism, which I don't agree with at all. If you are going to supplement mindfulness with something, then take Buddhism where it originated.

    How much help would a meditation practice that only helped you be alright mentally with destructive habits really be?

    If you look at the teachings of for example Thich Nhat Hanh then you might argue that mindfulness itself will lead you in the right direction.

    Of course it is more efficacious with Buddhist sila, philosophy, ethics and meditation, concentration and the rest of the N8FP.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Right View. Right Thought. Right Speech. Right Action. Right Livelihood. Right Effort. Right Mindfulness . Right Concentration ...

    I usually go with the combo ... The whole package so to speak...

    I guess whichever way non-Buddhist practitioners use it, it will eventually lead them to the other seven...
    And from what I gather there are some members who 'found' Buddhism through having "Mindfulness" therapy sessions ...

    dhammachickDhammaDragon
  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    First of all, the speaker puts together the concept of "mindfulness" and ancient Chinese philosophy... but mindfulness did not begin with ancient Chinese philosophy anyway.
    He may be comparing two different things, but to me it feels like talking of apples and carrots.

    In ancient China we have a contrast between Lao Tzu's fluid and multifarious wu-wei, action in non-action, an inherent trust in the cyclic patterns of nature and the need to get attuned to the needs of the moment -rather than responding from conditioning- and Confucious more mental and calculated concern with forms and conventions.
    Asian societies have been much influenced by Confucious sophist and exitist ways, to the point that in countries like Japan and continental China people are highly competitive and constantly pushed to excel.

    I am not sure mindfulness is as passive a process as the speaker seemed to describe.

    Those of us on a Buddhist path have set out with the goal of self-transformation in mind: we want to stop dukkha, cope with dukkha, suffer less.
    In our way to attain Right View, which is the alpha and omega of that path, mindfulness implies awareness, but not passive awareness.
    It entails a constant cleaning of the filter through which we become aware and grow.
    It entails a constant de-conditioning, shedding of biases and prejudices, flexibility of views, a growing out of opinions.

    As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle: change what you can change, accept what does not depend on you to change.
    Cash in the blow.
    Don't miss the lesson.

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

    I like the distinction between Confucian and Taoist principles you bring up @DhammaDragon. In the back of my mind somewhere I remember someone championing the ideas of Confucianism over mindfulness, I wonder if this is the same guy.


    From a self compassion point of view, acceptance offers a different motivation for transformation. Without acceptance we often use harsh thoughts towards ourselves, the "stick" if you will. If we love and accept ourselves our basis for motivation changes, we don't do things to stop being bad or wrong but do things because we want what is good for ourselves, the "carrot".

    ShoshinupekkaDhammaDragon
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    mindfulness is 'let it be' until 'let it go'

    ShoshinDhammaDragon
  • Is there a goal?

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    Should the goal of mindfulness be acceptance or transformation?
    -On one level, it seems to me mindfulness involves acceptance of the moment, which inclines the subject towards transformation...

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Part of the reason for learning practices such as:

    • releasing tension
    • letting go
    • breathing out/away
    • relaxing etc
      is expressly for developing tools to reframe or reprocess the attachment to tension/pain/dukkha/wallowing

    In a sense the so called intensity of negative experience is not so different from full awareness of positive or preferred states.
    Equanimity is exploring our responses and preferences with the real tools of meditation, yoga, breath etc ...

    If our mind is a drowning cesspool/out of control monkey-mind etc. then mindfulness is not recommended. We have to engage the practices applicable to our situation ...

    For some of us a teaching like the following may be superficial, impossible or counter productive ...

    “When there is no way out, there is still always a way through.
    So don’t turn away from the pain.
    Face it.
    Feel it fully.
    Feel it — don’t think about it!
    Express it if necessary,
    but don’t create a script in your mind around it.
    Give all your attention to the feeling,
    not to the person, event,
    or situation that seems to have caused it.
    Don’t let the mind use the pain to create
    a victim identity for yourself out of it.
    Feeling sorry for yourself and telling others your story
    will keep you stuck in suffering.
    Since it is impossible to get away from the feeling,
    the only possibility of change is to move into it;
    otherwise, nothing will shift.
    So give your complete attention to what you feel,
    and refrain from mentally labeling it.
    As you go into the feeling, be intensely alert.
    At first, it may seem like a dark and terrifying place,
    and when the urge to turn away from it comes,
    observe it but don’t act on it.
    Keep putting your attention on the pain,
    keep feeling the grief, the fear, the dread,
    the loneliness, whatever it is.
    Stay alert, stay present — present with your whole Being,
    with every cell of your body.
    As you do so, you are bringing a light into this darkness.
    This is the flame of your consciousness.”
    ~Eckhart Tolle, "The Power of Now"

    ... or the 'Power of Nowt' Buddha style ... B)

    JeffreyShoshinperson
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    @lobster I've heard it likened to Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby

    You get an idea that the universe is against you and you punch and punch and get more and more stuck. From what I've read I suppose it's like surviving quick sand but not that "I can't move" rather it's the opposite of quick sand maybe dreaming your in quick sand but then realize that's just a dream and that there is 'wiggle room'. Letting spaciousness flash into things a sense that there is more space.

    Shoshinperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited July 2

    Exactly so @Jeffrey
    Some teachings create the much needed wriggle room or safe space you mention.

    Based on a true story ...

    Wonderful and very real ... saw it today ...

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    :( WEBWOMBAT is not available in my country

  • DhammaDragonDhammaDragon Carpe Diem switzerland Veteran

    @lobster said:
    Part of the reason for learning practices such as:

    • releasing tension
    • letting go
    • breathing out/away
    • relaxing etc
      is expressly for developing tools to reframe or reprocess the attachment to tension/pain/dukkha/wallowing

    In a sense the so called intensity of negative experience is not so different from full awareness of positive or preferred states.
    Equanimity is exploring our responses and preferences with the real tools of meditation, yoga, breath etc ...

    If our mind is a drowning cesspool/out of control monkey-mind etc. then mindfulness is not recommended. We have to engage the practices applicable to our situation ...

    For some of us a teaching like the following may be superficial, impossible or counter productive ...

    “When there is no way out, there is still always a way through.
    So don’t turn away from the pain.
    Face it.
    Feel it fully.
    Feel it — don’t think about it!
    Express it if necessary,
    but don’t create a script in your mind around it.
    Give all your attention to the feeling,
    not to the person, event,
    or situation that seems to have caused it.
    Don’t let the mind use the pain to create
    a victim identity for yourself out of it.
    Feeling sorry for yourself and telling others your story
    will keep you stuck in suffering.
    Since it is impossible to get away from the feeling,
    the only possibility of change is to move into it;
    otherwise, nothing will shift.
    So give your complete attention to what you feel,
    and refrain from mentally labeling it.
    As you go into the feeling, be intensely alert.
    At first, it may seem like a dark and terrifying place,
    and when the urge to turn away from it comes,
    observe it but don’t act on it.
    Keep putting your attention on the pain,
    keep feeling the grief, the fear, the dread,
    the loneliness, whatever it is.
    Stay alert, stay present — present with your whole Being,
    with every cell of your body.
    As you do so, you are bringing a light into this darkness.
    This is the flame of your consciousness.”
    ~Eckhart Tolle, "The Power of Now"

    ... or the 'Power of Nowt' Buddha style ... B)

    What we resist persists.
    Also what we deny and refuse to stare in the face, even if we push it to the back recesses of our unconscious and ignore it's there.
    We can only work with our shadow when we beam some light into it.

    To attain cessation of dukkha, first we must acknowledge that dukkha exists.
    That is the First Noble Truth.
    It is not through denial of suffering that we will come to cessation of suffering.
    We face it, we accept it, we deal with it, then let it go, as wise Chan master Sheng Yen put it.

    Misparaphrasing Shunryu Suzuki, it consists on letting our (negative) thoughts come and go.
    We just don't serve them tea.

    Shoshinlobsterperson
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @ZendoLord84 said:
    Is there a goal?

    Goal is the Liberation

    each successful 'let go' is one moment of liberation

    ShoshinDhammaDragon
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    We can only work with our shadow when we beam some light into it.

    Exactly so.

    @upekka said:
    each successful 'let go' is one moment of liberation

    We must, not maybe, not tomorrow or when we are less busy (or dead) we must develop and cultivate some spare head space, emotional determination and sheer hutzpah to align with light, kind of let go of the impeding ...

    upekkaDhammaDragon
  • upekkaupekka Veteran

    @lobster said:

    We must, not maybe, not tomorrow or when we are less busy (or dead) we must develop and cultivate some spare head space, emotional determination and sheer hutzpah to align with light, kind of let go of the impeding ...

    yes, trying to 'let go' is the Right Effort

    let go of what?
    whatever arises (greed or hatred)
    (this is the Cause)

    know what is greed and hatred is the wisdom

    pay attention to the known wisdom is mindfulness
    mindfulness helps to 'let it (cause) be' until it goes it self (let go)

    so there is no Effect because of the Cause
    (avijja nirodho sankhara nirodho)

    lobster
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Kind of sounds like letting go would then be the effect of the cause, no?

    @upekka said:

    @lobster said:

    We must, not maybe, not tomorrow or when we are less busy (or dead) we must develop and cultivate some spare head space, emotional determination and sheer hutzpah to align with light, kind of let go of the impeding ...

    yes, trying to 'let go' is the Right Effort

    let go of what?
    whatever arises (greed or hatred)
    (this is the Cause)

    know what is greed and hatred is the wisdom

    pay attention to the known wisdom is mindfulness
    mindfulness helps to 'let it (cause) be' until it goes it self (let go)

    so there is no Effect because of the Cause
    (avijja nirodho sankhara nirodho)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    yes, trying to 'let go' is the Right Effort

    :)

    Right effort changes according to circumstances. Sometimes it is very tight, then we loosen ... Like brer rabbit we get stuck in:

    • our Buddha shelves [sic]
    • our Noble Efforts
    • our living
    • our dying
    • our moment

    How do we skilfully trick ourselves to shelf our current self?
    Answers to the usual olde Buddhist address ...
    http://www.sacred-texts.com/afr/stle/stle07.htm

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