The Mindfulness Conspiracy by Ronald Purser

Mindfulness has gone mainstream, with celebrity endorsement from Oprah Winfrey and Goldie Hawn. Meditation coaches, monks and neuroscientists went to Davos to impart the finer points to CEOs attending the World Economic Forum. The founders of the mindfulness movement have grown evangelical. Prophesying that its hybrid of science and meditative discipline “has the potential to ignite a universal or global renaissance”, the inventor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Jon Kabat-Zinn, has bigger ambitions than conquering stress. Mindfulness, he proclaims, “may actually be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple of hundred years”.

So, what exactly is this magic panacea? In 2014, Time magazine put a youthful blonde woman on its cover, blissing out above the words: “The Mindful Revolution.” The accompanying feature described a signature scene from the standardised course teaching MBSR: eating a raisin very slowly. “The ability to focus for a few minutes on a single raisin isn’t silly if the skills it requires are the keys to surviving and succeeding in the 21st century,” the author explained.

But anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary – it just helps people cope. In fact, it could also be making things worse. Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live. And yet mindfulness zealots believe that paying closer attention to the present moment without passing judgment has the revolutionary power to transform the whole world. It’s magical thinking on steroids.

Ronald Purser

Full Text: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/jun/14/the-mindfulness-conspiracy-capitalist-spirituality

Ronald Purser has a new book releasing on July 9th titled “McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality”

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How Capitalism captured the mindfulness industry by David Forbes

On the internet is an image of Ronald McDonald, the McDonald’s hamburger icon, seated in a lotus position. Some Thai Buddhists see this in literal terms as disrespectful to the Buddha; others are rightly critical of the colonialist and harmful cultural appropriation of Buddhism by the west and the lack of regard for Asian Buddhism in the US and Canada.

The technical, neutral definition of mindfulness and its relativist lack of a moral foundation has opened up secular mindfulness to a host of dubious uses, now called out by its critics as McMindfulness. McMindfulness occurs when mindfulness is used, with intention or unwittingly, for self-serving and ego-enhancing purposes that run counter to both Buddhist and Abrahamic prophetic teachings to let go of ego-attachment and enact skillful compassion for everyone.

David Forbes

Full Article: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/apr/16/how-capitalism-captured-the-mindfulness-industry

Future Perfect: Tolstoy and the Structures of Agrarian-Buddhist Utopianism in Taishō Japan

Abstract:

This study focuses on the role played by the work of Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) in shaping socialism and agrarian-Buddhist utopianism in Japan. As Japanese translations of Tolstoy’s fiction and philosophy, and accounts of his life became more available at the end of the 19th century, his ideas on the individual, religion, society, and politics had a tremendous impact on the generation coming of age in the 1900s and his popularity grew among young intellectuals. One important legacy of Tolstoy in Japan is his particular concern with the peasantry and agricultural reform. Among those inspired by Tolstoy and the narodniki lifestyle, three individuals, Tokutomi Roka, Eto Tekirei, and Mushakōji Saneatsu illustrate how prominent writers and thinkers adopted the master’s lifestyle and attempted to put his ideas into practice. In the spirit of the New Buddhists of late Meiji, they envisioned a comprehensive lifestyle structure. As Eto Tekirei moved to the village of Takaido with the assistance of Tokutomi Roka, he called his new home Hyakushō Aidōjō (literally, Farmers Love Training Ground). He and his family endeavored to follow a Tolstoyan life, which included labor, philosophy, art, religion, society, and politics, a grand project that he saw as a “non-religious religion.” As such, Tekirei’s utopian vision might be conceived as an experiment in “alter-modernity.”

James Mark Shields

Full Text: https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/9/5/161/htm

Dependent Co-evolution: Kropotkin’s Theory of Mutual Aid and its Appropriation by Chinese Buddhists

Abstract:

The encounter between Buddhism and science has long been recognized as one of the key events in the formulation of Buddhist modernisms. Yet only recently has this begun to be explored in its historic specificity. This paper examines Republican-era Chinese Buddhists’ engagement with the theory of evolution at the peak of its cultural influence in the 1920s and 30s. It argues that while Buddhists largely accepted biological evolution, Darwinist theories of survival of the fittest were rejected. Instead, they embraced the alternative theory of Peter Kropotkin, who saw mutual aid as the driving force of evolution. This theory was not only less offensive to Buddhist sensibilities,but also amenable to a rhetorical strategy of subsumption in which Kropotkin was presented as anticipated and fulfilled by Buddhist doctrine. This tactic allowed Buddhists to portray the religion as modern, scientific, and progressive while avoiding what were seen as the pernicious corollaries of Darwinism. Effectively, Buddhists who employed this tactic attempted to annex Kroptokin’s discursive space, taking advantage of the internal variegation of modernity in order to constitute it as part of a modern discourse and superscribe that discourse with their own concerns

By Justin Ritzinger

A Political Economy of Attention, Mindfulness and Consumerism: Reclaiming the Mindful Commons by Peter Doran

The power of capital is the power to target our attention, mould market-ready identities, and reduce the public realm to an endless series of choices. This has far-reaching implications for our psychological, physical and spiritual well-being, and ultimately for our global ecology. In this consumer age, the underlying teachings of Buddhist mindfulness offer more than individual well-being and resilience. They also offer new sources of critical inquiry into our collective condition, and may point, in time, to regulatory initiatives in the field of well-being.

This book draws together lively debates from the new economics of transition, commons and well-being, consumerism, and the emerging role of mindfulness in popular culture. Engaged Buddhist practices and teachings correspond closely to insights in contemporary political philosophical investigations into the nature of power, notably by Michel Foucault. The ‘attention economy’ can be understood as a new arena of struggle in our age of neoliberal governmentality; as the forces of enclosure – having colonized forests, land and the bodies of workers – are now extended to the realm of our minds and subjectivity. This poses questions about the recovery of the ‘mindful commons’: the practices we must cultivate to reclaim our attention, time and lives from the forces of capitalization.

This is a valuable resource for students and scholars of environmental philosophy, environmental psychology, environmental sociology, well-being and new economics, political economy, environmental politics, the commons and law, as well as Buddhist theory and philosophy.

Peter Doran

Can buy book here: https://www.routledge.com/A-Political-Economy-of-Attention-Mindfulness-and-Consumerism-Reclaiming/Doran/p/book/9781138015975

His blog: https://mindfulcommons.org/

Book Review by Ben Schmid: Economy of Attention Review

 

Daoism and Anarchism: Critiques of State Autonomy in Ancient and Modern China

This volume in the Contemporary Anarchist Studies series focuses on anti-statist critiques in ancient and modern China and demonstrates that China does not have an unchallenged authoritarian political culture.

Treating anarchism as a critique of centralized state power, the work first examines radical Daoist thought from the 4th century BCE to the 9th century CE and compares Daoist philosophers and poets to Western anarchist and utopian thinkers. This is followed by a survey of anarchist themes in dissident thought in the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to the present. A concluding chapter discusses how Daoist anarchism can be applied to any anarchist-inspired radical critique today.

This work not only challenges the usual ideas of the scope and nature of dissent in China, it also provides a unique comparison of ancient Chinese Daoist anarchism to Western anarchist. Featuring previously untranslated texts, such as the 9th century Buddhist anarchist tract, the Wunengzi, and essays from the PRC press, it will be an essential resource to anyone studying anarchism, Chinese political thought, political dissent, and political history.

John A. Rapp

Full Text: https://astudygroup.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/daoism-and-anarchism-contempor-john-a-rapp.pdf

Thanks to the Austin Anarchist Study Group for putting up the PDF!

https://astudygroup.wordpress.com/