July 02, 2013
Over at the Huffington Post, Tricycle contributing editor David Loy and Ron Purser take on the trend of "McMindfulness," a quickly growing (and lucrative) industry slinging a form of secularized mindfulness deracinated from its ethical context. Proponents of mindfulness training often brand their teachings as Buddhist-inspired, the authors note, but in the same breath deny the practice's ties to its origins, assuring their corporate clients and sponsors that the technique is purely secular. While "uncoupling mindfulness from its ethical and religious Buddhist context is understandable...the rush to commodify mindfulnesss into a marketable technique" has a number of undesirable results.
While a stripped-down, secularized technique—what some critics are now calling "McMindfulness"—may make it more palatable to the corporate world, decontextualizing mindfulness from its original liberative and transformative purpose, as well as its foundation in social ethics, amounts to a Faustian bargain. Rather than applying mindfulness as a means to awaken individuals and organizations from the unwholesome roots of greed, ill will and delusion, it is usually being refashioned into a banal, therapeutic, self-help technique that can actually reinforce those roots.
Mindfulness consultants' unabashed focus on self-transformation has functioned to prop up the status quo rather than subvert it:
Bhikkhu Bodhi, an outspoken western Buddhist monk, has warned: 'absent a sharp social critique, Buddhist practices could easily be used to justify and stabilize the status quo, becoming a reinforcement of consumer capitalism.' Unfortunately, a more ethical and socially responsible view of mindfulness is now seen by many practitioners as a tangential concern, or as an unnecessary politicizing of one's personal journey of self-transformation.
Read the full article here.