Something a little different than the standard Dharma post.

Abstract:

Studies of animal behavior consistently demonstrate that the social environment impacts cooperation, yet the effect of social dynamics has been largely excluded from studies of human cooperation. Here, we introduce a novel approach inspired by nonhuman primate research to address how social hierarchies impact human cooperation. Participants competed to earn hierarchy positions and then could cooperate with another individual in the hierarchy by investing in a common effort. Cooperation was achieved if the combined investments exceeded a threshold, and the higher ranked individual distributed the spoils unless control was contested by the partner. Compared to a condition lacking hierarchy, cooperation declined in the presence of a hierarchy due to a decrease in investment by lower ranked individuals. Furthermore, hierarchy was detrimental to cooperation regardless of whether it was earned or arbitrary. These findings mirror results from nonhuman primates and demonstrate that hierarchies are detrimental to cooperation. However, these results deviate from nonhuman primate findings by demonstrating that human behavior is responsive to changing hierarchical structures and suggests partnership dynamics that may improve cooperation. This work introduces a controlled way to investigate the social influences on human behavior, and demonstrates the evolutionary continuity of human behavior with other primate species.

Full text here http://www.nature.com/articles/srep18634

“The Biological Unity of Mankind
and the Case Against Racism

A special emphasis is placed in Buddhism on the worth and dignity of human existence in view of the opportunities and potentialities that man possesses for self-development. The unity of mankind is emphasised, and a distinction drawn between human beings and the animal and plant kingdoms.”

Full text found here http://bps.lk/olib/wh/wh200-u.html

“American scholar and Theravada monk Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi might not receive the same high-profile press coverage as the Roman Catholic Church’s charismatic standard-bearer Pope Francis, but it is becoming evident to Buddhism watchers and commentators that his message is every bit as bold, eloquent, and sophisticated as the Pope’s. The recent focus on Bhikkhu Bodhi and other courageous Buddhist leaders who are highlighting imminent threats such as climate change or global hunger might well be influenced by a popular resonance with the urgency with which Pope Francis speaks about ecological catastrophe and poverty. Whatever the reasons, Bhikkhu Bodhi’s actions speak loudly for themselves. As the founder and chair of humanitarian organization Buddhist Global Relief (BGR), his activist work centers specifically on the issues of climate change (he is a spiritual ambassador for the interfaith climate change movement Our Voices) and hunger relief.”

by Raymond Lam

Full text here http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/conscientious-compassionmdashbhikkhu-bodhi-on-climate-change-social-justice-and-saving-the-world

“The mindfulness movement is in danger of being turned into a commodity, “a product to be bought and sold on the free market”, a Buddhist Society conference was told.

“People are becoming professionally mindful,” Steven Stanley, a social psychologist at Cardiff University, told an audience of Buddhists and secular mindfulness practitioners on Wednesday.

It was possible to make a living from mindfulness, with growing opportunities for research, teaching and speaking, he said, adding that it is becoming an “increasingly professionalised domain” with a tendency towards standardised instruction.”

Full article here http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/oct/28/mindfulness-free-market-commodity-risk

A great interview about how Dharma is being sold as a consumer product in the west.

“You have said that Buddhists, especially Buddhist teachers, have no choice but to be outsiders, willing to speak the truth at all costs, and you have implied that Buddhist communities in America are in a state of decline. What I have tried to say is that very few places or teachers seem to be interested in the teaching of liberation. In most places, Buddhism is in danger of becoming another consumer item.

How so? Teachers live in the marketplace, like the rest of us. They know how the game is played, and at a very unconscious level, at least, they want to play that game. Many of them have spent their lives in dharma communities and they seek the approval of their peers, yet they also want the success, the rewards, that our materialistic culture has to offer. In the end, many of them allow themselves to succumb to marketplace dynamics. They have to promote their books and attract students, so it becomes a celebrity game, because celebrity brings attention, it brings money, and it satisfies people. It’s human nature to want to say “my students” and to have a lot of students. Most people forget that they began practicing for the sake of liberation. Teachers may now be playing the student game, the numbers game, the celebrity game.”

Full article can be found here http://www.tricycle.com/interview/dharma-sale

“Almost every person who walks through my practice doorway is anxious in some way. And so they should be. While their anxiety might be blasting messages at an overly high volume, the messages themselves are worth paying attention to: abusive relationships, significant losses and workplaces that have squeezed their personal, physical and spiritual lives into a corner too small for a hamster to burrow in.

Most come in hoping that the volume of their anxiety will be turned down, but many also hope that the messages themselves will go away. Like all of us, they want to find a way around having to take difficult action to change their lives. And for some of them, their hopes are pinned on our current corporatised misinterpretation of mindfulness. They’ve been sold on meditation as a simple way to bear the unbearable.

Pasteurised versions of the ancient practice of mindfulness are now big business. With Google, Target and Ford recently jumping on the corporate mindfulness bandwagon, the rebranding of mindful meditation and practice as a means to increase both productivity and compliance is now complete.”

Zoë Krupka

Full article can be found here https://theconversation.com/how-corporates-co-opted-the-art-of-mindfulness-to-make-us-bear-the-unbearable-47768

Possibly Bhante Sujato’s last post for quite sometime and he leaves us with his thoughts on patriarchy and hierarchy in Buddhism today. He was one my main inspirations for this blog and continues to be a teacher I greatly respect.

Sujato’s Blog

Here’s the paper I presented at the recent Sakyadhita conference in Yogyakarta. It may be the last piece of writing I publish for a while, so enjoy.

Nuns exist only in the imagination. When I close my eyes, and focus on what is real, there are no nuns there. Nor, for that matter, are there any monks, or lay people, or anyone else. So if we are to talk about any of these kinds of people, we are telling a story—a story that has some relation to fact, we hope, but where the facts are filled in with copious amounts of imagination.

We imagine a past and call it “history.” We imagine a future and call it “vision.” We imagine the present and call it “reality.” Or, to be sadder but more accurate, in Buddhism we mostly just imagine a past and say that’s “the way it is,” and we…

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