History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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Mindfulness, lollipops, and dead serious buddhists

February 24th, 2015 · No Comments

It is hard to fathom the mindfulness movement, in part because it has not played out to its endgame. If mindfulness can take hold in the general public I can see no reason why there is anything wrong with that. The problem is the mismatch of motives emerging to define the practice: physical/psychological benefits. That was not the original status of ‘meditation’ which was connected to the variety of buddhist/yogic ‘paths’ to the highest state of enlightenment.
The total confusion here at the start of the mindfulness movement is a little unnerving: the whole concept and practice of meditation is going to get flooded with a whooper noise factor. The issue here is not to denounce entropy but to reinvent meditation. If meditation is not a technique for stress reduction, etc, then it should reinvent itself as ‘meditation’ suffers semantic message scrambling. That requires a new terminology and practice.
The entry of ‘meditation’ into public discourse in the company to fads of the hoolahoops is probably the fault of buddhists themselves who are trying to seed a new idea whose resolution requires in the end an encounter with the main idea of buddhism. I could be wrong, but I don’t think meditation as stress reduction has much of a future: the reason, returning stress as the method becomes habit-ridden. And meditation is a rare case of a mechanical process that can sometimes invoke a new consciousness. But the method is actually not very profound. Perahps that’s its strength. But many people have achieved higher consciousness without the mechanics of meditation. A good example is the recent Rajneesh world where many books on meditation are in evidence, but with zazen a relatively bypassed practice, and sitting meditation notably absent. I will stand correction here if wrong. But the issue is the mechanical confronting the conscious. And if one form of meditation becomes mechanical it might help to drop it. But sitting meditation seems for many to survive this mechanization. Perhaps that’s because sitting for longer and longer periods never becomes mechanical. It induces mental disgorgement of unconscious issues. But the fact remains that it is easy to do to buddhist meditation what the public will do to mindfulness. Somehow, however, classic sitting meditation (zazen) has a unique record of success. In the end stress reduction seems a lost cause. It is the best way to induce nervous breakdown yet invented.

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