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

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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/

The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitatrian Anarchism by John Clark

The Impossible Community confronts a critical moment when social and ecological catastrophe loom, the Left seems unable to articulate a response, and the Right is monopolizing public debates. This book offers a reformulation of anarchist social and political theory to develop a communitarian anarchist solution.

It argues that a free and just social order requires a radical transformation of the modes of domination exercised through social ideology and institutional structures. Communitarian anarchism unites a universalist concern for social and ecological justice while recognizing the integrity and individuality of the person. In fact, anarchist principles of mutual aid and voluntary cooperation can already be seen in various contexts, from the rebuilding of New Orleans after Katrina to social movements in India.

This work offers both a theoretical framework and concrete case studies to show how contemporary anarchist practice continues a long tradition of successfully synthetizing personal and communal liberation. This significant contribution will appeal not only to students in anarchism and political theory, but also to activists and anyone interested in making the world a better place.

By John Clark

Full Text: https://www.scribd.com/document/236473634/Impossible-Community