History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Mindfulness article at Alternet…

February 2nd, 2015 · No Comments


This is a fairly complicated article and I must express some wonder, or frustration, that I have never heard of anything much of this history, which was on its way starting in 1979.
I think that this issue is a curve ball for new agers, who rightly protest the fix in the realm of scientism/commerce of an ancient domain of meditation, buddhist or otherwise. Will this brand of what is really pseudo-meditation destroy the real thing? The presumption that traditionalists have a monopoly on the real thing is of course one aspect of a two-sided dilemma.

I think one false conclusion here is that, in the eyes of legacy traditionalists, modernity as such is at fault and is the core reason for the sense of something wrong in the mindfulness movement. I think rather it is a variant of one and the same process people have noticed and exposed since the era of Marx and Engels, and their generation, finding a problem with capitalism. But that is set in the larger framework of a cultural stance of scientism, utilitarian ethics, commercial logic, and consumerist concession to the path of least resistance. But wasn’t the traditionalist legacy the creator of the lazy man’s guide to enlightenment?

I think the problem is in part bad philosophy/science and that didn’t have to corrupt mindfulness. A scientific analysis of meditation is taken for granted and this produces a set of causal equivalents of ‘mindfulness’ and that is simply bad science, and something the traditionalists didn’t suffer from. But then the spectacle of so many Kung Fu exploitation flicks shows the net equivalent of those fallacies were always present.
The stance of the original meditators was the discovery of a complex state of mind that was not easily related to a causal logic, if the ancients thought of it at all in that way. Actually the prakrit literature has some pretty profound discourses all around here. But the correlation of meditation thence mindfulness to a straight causal analysis isn’t going to work, even as scientists insist it must work and rewrite what they see in that language of science. I think the result will be partial success in such things as relaxation or stress reduction, followed by a slow damping out of effects: there is no ultimate causal correlation with these desirable outcomes. The whole thing is going to end up an analytical mess.

The correct path for science is the path of the buddhas, who came upon the grades of consciousness. It is this simple issue that can lead to knowledge, as science, perhaps, and this in yoga as in science must be free of the interference of the desirer, that is, known objectively with or without an aimed for result.
There is no reason why the primordial distinctions of consciousness can’t be the object of knowledge: it was always thus in those who thought yoga (not the exercises, as such) a science. We should be careful here because Hinduism confuses us. I suspect the yoga of Patanjali is in part influenced by competition with buddhism. And that the primordial source in ur-yoga that stood before Jain/Buddhist ‘yoga’ is far more ancient. I think the world of yoga may have suffered the same kind of downshift we see now in its commercialization in the new age movement. But, whatever the case, the issue of a science of yoga was the magnificent analysis of the classic samadhis. The modern version can hardly omit these, even if they are desperate to do just that.

In any case the modern perspective might be to reject the false and oversimplified, then commercialized, versions of yoga, so reminiscent of the tomb-robbers of the Egyptian pyramids.

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