February 19, 2014

Why I Disrupted the Wisdom 2.0 Conference

The organizer behind the demonstration speaks outAmanda Ream

The invisibility of the crisis in San Francisco right now is reminiscent of that of the AIDS epidemic. To quote from Vito Russo, a founder of the AIDS activist group ACT UP, film historian, and rabble rouser, it’s “like living through a war which is happening only for those people who happen to be in the trenches.” He lived in this city when it was a haven for political radicals, queer people, artists, and immigrants, when it was America’s great city of sanctuary.

“You look around and you discover that you’ve lost more of your friends, but nobody else notices,” he said. “It isn’t happening to them.”

People are not dying, but they’re disappearing every day, from all over the city. The tech industry’s great economic boom is driving a housing crisis, with no-fault evictions increasing 175% since last year. The city doesn’t keep track of how many people live in these apartments, but the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project estimates up to 3580 residents were no-fault evicted in 2013.

I came to San Francisco like generations of people before me because I wanted to find the freedom to live out my ideals. And to practice the dharma—no other city has so many teachers and centers. It’s a great place to find the teachings of the Buddha. The tech industry, Google and Facebook and their peers, have adopted the culture of this place.

Just like the gentrification of a neighborhood where new, wealthy people displace people who have lived there longer, the dharma is undergoing a process of gentrification in San Francisco today. Lost is the bigger picture of the teachings that asks us to consider our interdependence and to move beyond self-help and addressing only our own suffering. The dharma directs us to feel the suffering of others.

The pace of displacement in the city’s Mission District makes whole sections of the neighborhood unrecognizable to people who lived there just a year before. With great respect for Sharon Salzberg, Konda Mason, and Shinzen Young, who taught this year at Wisdom 2.0, I ask the following question about the dharma on display at this conference: To whom is it recognizable?

While members of Eviction Free San Francisco held a banner across the stage, I handed out leaflets to the more than 500 attendees that read, “Thank you for your practice. We invite you to consider the truth behind Google and the tech industry’s impact on San Francisco.” 

At a conference like this, our action—a banner and a chant of “San Francisco Not for Sale” on a bullhorn—is only meaningful in the context of the larger movement to keep families in their homes, to save the city and the diversity we love, and to repeal the state law that allows for no-fault evictions, which create conditions for speculators and evictors to run wild for profits. We want to preserve an economically diverse city that works for all of us, not just the tech industry.

When I zipped up that banner in a bag to sneak it into the conference, I thought about the ways this action could contribute to a larger conversation among people of conscience about how to stop this crisis of economic inequality. But like our Mission District neighbors, the activists and the message of Eviction Free San Francisco were disappeared without a word, censored from the livestream of the event. As we were marched out of the hall by angry conference staff, the Google presentation carried on, asking the audience to “check in with their body” about the conflict. No one addressed the issues we were raising, not then or later on in the conference. It was a case study in spiritual bypassing.

It’s almost too easy to point this out at Wisdom 2.0. Most of the workshops offer lifestyle and consumer choices that are meant to help people heal from the harm, emptiness, and unsustainability associated with living under capitalism, but it does so without offering an analysis of where this disconnection comes from. The conference presents an evolution in consciousness of the wealthiest among us as the antidote to suffering rather than the redistribution of wealth and power.

We disrupted Wisdom 2.0 to make visible the struggle of eviction and gentrification that we and our neighbors are facing. The invitation still stands for the organizers, presenters, and attendees of this conference, as well as our new neighbors who work for the companies that put it on, to recognize our demands and engage with these social issues.

Before Google’s talk on corporate mindfulness at Wisdom 2.0, I sat there in my chair, a participant in a centering practice alongside other conference attendees. I felt connected. We were only different from them because we were preparing ourselves to take the stage as uninvited guests in order to ask the question that most needs asking in San Francisco right now: Who is included and who is excluded from this community?

Amanda Ream is a member of Oakland’s East Bay Meditation Center and is in the Dedicated Practitioner’s Program at Spirit Rock. She works as a union organizer in Bernal Heights, San Francisco.

View a video of the Google Wisdom 2.0 disruption here.

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Dominic Gomez's picture

Unfortunate Catch-22 for Google, eh? http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2012/12/silicon-valleys-exclusive-s...

DB's picture
njefferis's picture

Corporations are now people & machines can think for themselves. Who needs living beings?

amarrop's picture

Thank you for speaking out and being a voice and presence for the "have-nots" who are the majority of us...it infuriates me that those with the most money have the loudest voices---and the most power---the poor, woman, children, young black men in hoodies who play their music too loud---come on, people...there are more of us than them...how long do we bury our heads in the sand???...we stopped a war once, or don't you remember???...

mahakala's picture

"Once the self is understood, one can be sincere in revolution, and the ignorance of the self can be overthrown. Therefore, in the path of revolution "the sun of the self is truth." The sun is an image of illumination, understanding; truth means sincerity. If one does not understand, one cannot be sincere; if one can understand, one will be sincere. With understanding and sincerity, as the first thought is truthful, one will be able to overthrow and revolutionize the self. Therefore revolution contains a path of creativity and development.

However, though revolution is creative and developmental, it is necessary that revolution be correct. If right and wrong are not differentiated and true and false are not distinguished, but all are overthrown together, and one enters into nihilistic quietism*, this is not correct and so is not fruitful; and not being fruitful it is not creative or developmental.

*quietism: Attachment to tranquility; adoption of the life of a recluse as an end in itself; attachment to meditation exercise stilling the mind, without corresponding dynamic action following a climax of stillness"

Jakela's picture

Attendees at 2.0 had one agenda: what's in the dharma for me, i.e. what can I abscond with that will make me more successful, rich, and "creative" (whatever that means)
Trying to discuss anything substantive with these people in the realm of compassion and humanity is unfortunately a complete waste of time. One commentator said that rocks were thrown at Google buses and it pisses him off at protesters. I say, maybe the Google and SV employees who say they respect the dharma need a figurative whack upside their heads from a teacher they respect who is willing to tell them how they are misapplying and misusing it.

Dominic Gomez's picture

Wisdom 0.0 was when Prince Siddhartha got a glimpse of the reality of suffering just outside his palace gates 2,500 years ago.

a_federman's picture

Your action has been noted, Amanda. You definitely exposed something about the nature of corporate mindfulness. I hope it will bring more awareness, not negativity. This is what I wrote immediately after watching the video:

"A group of activists took the stage at Wisdom2.0 conference and protested against something that I couldn't quite understand. I have nothing to say about the protest itself, but the reaction of Wisdom2.0 presenters and organizers was most interesting.

In a blog post, summit organizers just couldn't help being pleased with themselves stating how one of the presenters "handled it with incredible grace and compassion". Or did he?

What I saw in the video, that was filmed by the audience as the official broadcast was deleted from the Wisdom2.0 website, was something different. I saw non-engagement with protesters, embarrassment, and using "mindfulness" as a way to disconnect from the actual event and delve into realms of quiet reflection while those who really needed the attention are led away from the stage, and probably from the hall.

Wisdom2.0 leaders cannot congratulate themselves for slightly altering the planned schedule to "embrace the moment, without judging it good or bad". Instead, some reflection is needed on what a mindful response would look like. Perhaps embracing the protesters, not the moment, could show true compassion for their cause, whatever that was. It could have been a live demonstration of flexibility, curiosity, compassionate response, and openness to the unpleasant.

I can't help noticing the Freudian aspect of the the second reaction from stage. Another presenter reminded the audience of the importance of "a posture of respect" within organizations, embracing diverse opinions. Let us be reminded of the other meaning of "posture", and how protesters' opinions where respected by being mindfully shown the way out."

Watch video here: http://youtu.be/xMmlSpk0skI


owlmonkey's picture

I was a conference participant and my experience was negative. Some context to remember though, the folks presenting on stage were three Google employees not conference leaders. Google employees have had bricks thrown at their buses by this same protest group, in one case smashing a window (plus slashing tires) in recent months. There's a history of aggression that's fresh on the mind. So I'm not surprised that their reaction was more about calming down first before more awareness and introspection. In the Tibetan tradition, the first enlightened action is pacification, then comes enriching, magnetizing, and last self liberation. If you don't have stability of mind, then your actions become self defeating. Like throwing bricks.

albill's picture

You left out the Google employee who had protesters stalking his neighborhood around his house handing out flyers protesting him and Google in Berkeley.

Douglass St.Christian's picture

back in the 1970's, when i had more hair, though perhaps less patience, i sat a week long retreat in vermont with a group of young vietnamese buddhists who were visiting a college for the summer. we focused our mostly silent retreat on the impossible challenge of the vow to end all suffering. now that i have less hair, but more patience, i find myself coming back again and again to that week, and the conundrum it planted at the heart of my own practice, a practice that starts and ends with understanding that the heart of this vow is an embrace of community, not personal comfort, or, in the case of googled mindfulness, the privilege of personal salvation. listening to the response from the wisdom 2.0 organizers made me feel like the calvinists had returned, but this time with smiley faces and meditation timers. even the name of the conference, with its pandering to the tech-savvy elites of the so-called new economy, reminds me of the sermons of the methodists with their obsessions with the personal over the holistic as the source of grace.

the vow to end all suffering looks outward at the world, not inward at personal gratification.

this "disruption" exemplifies what a commitment to that vow looks like.

bubbathepirate's picture

Nicely stated. I agree. Thanks Amanda and friends. Keep it real.

owlmonkey's picture

The conference is not a retreat or forwarding any particular view. I've attended all five years. It's merely an invitation for folks in the tech world to meet and discuss things with people from various wisdom traditions - inclusive of all mindfulness and wisdom traditions not just Buddhists. The topics that have arisen lately from that dialog ranged from distraction and addiction to mobile devices and to technology widely and how we all relate to that, to mindfulness practices in health care, government, schools, etc. to well anything that might come up with you get those two communities together. There has not been a particular agenda from the organizers though beyond the invitation for dialog and to see what arises.

jackelope65's picture

Ironically, not only have many long term practitioners been forced out of their homes, but these high priced, high tech conferences are priced beyond average means and set in locations where only the rich could afford a hotel. My wife and I attended a silent retreat with Khechen Thrangu Rinpoche where we could tent, cook outside or eat reasonably priced vegetarian dinners where attendees took turns with kitchen duty. Dharma is as much about community, acceptance, and participation as the teachings themselves. Open sky and Maine woods, wild flowers and forest dwellers welcomed all.

amyvegan's picture

so true. in bali, the island is being taken over by rich white new-agers promising spiritual awakening thru yoga and meditation retreats in their newly built mini mansions with infinity pools where rice patties once fed the balinese.

owlmonkey's picture

A large portion of the presented talks and panel discussions at the conference were streamed live for free and are still now available to watch for free online. Pretty amazing when you think of it, that such a thing is even possible now. But then again this conference was about how mindfulness traditions (not just Buddhism) and technology communities might have something to talk about, without any particular agenda in the discussions. Just seeing what arises from the collective wisdom.

hbchris's picture

Oppositional consciousness is a sword that eventually cuts both ways. Appreciate the effort and it's a very important issue, but these sort of tactics are insufficient for contemporary times (or for the Foucauldian's, the age of biopower). Would hope that the Buddhists would step up with more skillful means then the "us vs. them" position..

rpurser's picture

Hmmm...then I guess Martin Luther King's civil disobedience was all for naught, since he opposed inequality and racism. Simply labeling the protesters as "oppositional consciousness" is just another way of silencing them, and dismissing their message. It is rhetorical move to reduce their message to JUST opposition, and nothing more, which is awfully presumptuous. Could it be that the protesters actually have a broader, moral concern in mind, beyond the narrow, one-dimensional concern for corporate profits? There is much more going on here than a Fox News sort of dismissiveness of "us vs. them" --

hbchris's picture

And labeling the other as "narrow-minded" and "Fox news" continues the cycle of going nowhere. I was making the point, with your help, that the continuing re-branding of the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat goes nowhere. Just ask the Occupy movement..

hbchris's picture

And it's not ambivalence. I am desperately hoping for multiple advanced solutions.

DB's picture

I want to give a big Hell Yeah to the folks who pulled it off! Thank you! Way to raise awareness and put some very powerful, influential people on the spot. The protest raises a host of issues that go beyond gentrification but. The economic warfare against San Fransiscos poor is a huge issue and I hope ya'll are able to get some traction on it.

mbrowningvogel's picture

Bravo Amanda. Just so it doesn't get lost in the polemics, what you did was wonderful and inspiring. It reminded me of a Kate Wolf quote, "There are none of use that walk this path alone." Also, here's a Ghandi quote, that keeps coming up for me when I have tried to talk to the tech insiders I know about these issues: "There is no one so blind as those who will not see." Thanks for making the world your monastery.

mrmojo's picture
wswdt20's picture

Many thanks to Amanda for her time on this article and her part in the action at the Wisdom 2.0 conference. For thoughts on the recent happenings in SF, vi a detour through Tibet, please visit this link: http://sfheavenandearth.wordpress.com/

Mushim's picture

I also thank Amanda and the other folks who participated in this action. I already see many beneficial ripple effects from the media coverage; in my own case, I've taken some time to read online newspaper articles about the effect of Google worker shuttles using MUNI bus stops without having previously worked out a financial arrangement with the city of San Francisco, the hike in rents of apartments near the Google shuttle stops, and the erosion of old, well-established neighborhoods with rich community interwoven life as gentrification sets in. I'm encouraged to see that, in this discussion there is acknowledgment of the complexity of these issues. I'm using a computer and the Internet right now to post this response and a member of my family works in tech in San Francisco; I don't condemn the tech industry but rather invite their leaders and financial decision-makers to do a deep dive into the "Wisdom 2014" of principles and practices of Cultural Humility as their decisions impact the places where low-income persons and families have for many generations lived, raised their children, and maintained small neighborhood businesses. What will happen to these neighborhood people? Where will they go? What systems of emotional and economic support will they have access to in new settings? Will they be able to find a new dentist or doctor easily; will the elderly people be able to adjust to a new home, if they can afford a new home at all?

Hearing the voices and stories, seeing the faces and bodies, of real people who are affected by one's actions and non-actions takes time, and it requires an understanding of the value of spending time in this manner. There would also be space and time to hear from tech industry workers, not all of whom are wealthy, who are seeking a way to earn a living and to find residence near their workplaces. This work goes a heck of a lot farther beyond "checking in with your body" -- although I believe in that practice as well. And if checking in with your body results in your gut telling you that the anxiety and fear that threatened dislocation produces for vulnerable communities is worth paying attention to, then that's an application of mindfulness I can get behind.

amyvegan's picture

expecting google to give a poop about low income people being displaced is about as realistic as expecting the slaughterhouse industry to give a poop about the suffering of food animals.

albill's picture

So Google is preventing more housing from being built in San Francisco to meet demand and immigration? I thought it was the SF city government...

Mushim's picture

Albill, I don't think that Google is preventing affordable housing from being built in San Francisco, as affordable housing is not one of Google's goals, and you are rightly pointing to the need for the San Francisco city government to address affordable housing. I believe what is being highlighted in the disruption of the Wisdom 2.0 conference is the impact of a large number of no-fault evictions in areas where tech companies are opening facilities, causing an influx of those companies' workers who wish, understandably, to live near their workplaces. If you think about old, well-established neighborhoods in places like SF's Mission District, with small businesses, restaurants with modestly priced meals, places of worship, grocery and clothing stores where neighbors run into each other and their children and members of their extended families as they shop, then we can see that quickly eradicating and changing these interwoven cultures is a great loss. As I stated on this comment page, I'm not against tech companies or tech workers. What I think is needed is for all the Wisdom 2.0 conference attendees (not just targeting Google) to take the time to participate in community dialogues with people who live in the neighborhoods and areas that are being affected by worker shuttle buses, no fault evictions, and rapid changes in demographics due to decisions being made by tech companies' leadership.

Duabuleh's picture

I lived in the Bay Area for more than thirty years and absolutely understand where people's anger is coming from. Gentrification is not a new problem in San Francisco by any means, but the scale of what's happening now is unprecedented. However, I think it would be nearly impossible, to stop a major American corporation from renting or buying office space in a major city like San Francisco. Ultimately, the approval of any new projects in the city, not to mention the destruction of exiting housing to build more expensive housing, can only be stopped by the people of San Francisco and their elected representatives.

Educating members of the tech community about the impact of corporate decisions is an admirable goal and it may be that the attendees of a conference on mindfulness would be a good place to start. Having worked in technology myself for many years, and having seen the benefit of mindfulness programs first hand, both at work, and in health care situations, I certainly don't see the downside of bringing mindfulness to the overworked and over-stressed. In my experience, meeting our experience (body sensations, emotions, thoughts, etc.) with kind attention can have a profound effect on opening hearts and minds, no matter what their job descriptions or life situation.

justkelly's picture


"When Wisdom 2.0 founder and host Soren Gordhamer heard the yelling from backstage, he came out not knowing what was happening. It was unclear what the protesters were doing and what they had planned and naturally, his first thought was for the safety of the panelists and audience. Contrary to rumors of burly security guards, the two gentleman who escorted the protesters from the stage were one of our conference volunteers, and a member of the hotel’s union A/V staff.

"During the incident, our onsite livestream technician, acting on years of professional instinct, cut the feed when he saw that something unplanned was happening onstage. As the only videos available on our website right now are from the livestream archive, it is true that the video of the protest is currently missing. This is not because we’re censoring it; it’s because we’re working on extracting the footage from our files. We will have video of the session (including the protest) up on our site as soon as we can.

"We very much understand the concern about rent prices and evictions in San Francisco — we’re sure many Wisdom 2.0 conference attendees share the sentiment. There are many issues facing our culture that we try to address at Wisdom 2.0, and we freely admit that we do not always successfully cover every important topic that is worthy of public discussion. We do invite feedback about the topics we cover, and we also provide many opportunities for conference participants to engage in conversations with each other about topics that matter to them.

"In trying to communicate with the protesters after they left the stage, we were met with a great deal of aggression. The protesters chose to enter the conference using fabricated badges instead of reaching out to us to request that this conversation be included in conference programming. Rather than create more anger and division, we invite open dialogue in our community, and wish to support those who will engage with honesty and respect about the matters that are important to them."

rpurser's picture

Sarvodaya embraces not merely individual liberation or personal salvation, but all forms of liberation--political, social, mental and moral. We need a Wisdom 3.0 now that wakes up to the fact that there is big wide world out there beyond South of Mission and Mountain View.

justkelly's picture

I don't disagree. However I thought it was worth posting Wisdom 2.0's response to some of the claims. Specifically, I think they did well to address the accusation of censorship (and I wonder if Amanda considered that characterizing their motivations in this way might be unfairly jumping to conclusions, something mindfulness practitioners should be aware of). Additionally, she claims in this essay that she wished to start a conversation, and that nobody at the conference attempted to address the issues the protesters were raising. I think the response to this seems very fair: "In trying to communicate with the protesters after they left the stage, we were met with a great deal of aggression. The protesters chose to enter the conference using fabricated badges instead of reaching out to us to request that this conversation be included in conference programming. "

If the purpose is truly to start a conversation, why not reach out and request that this become part of the conference programming, rather than causing a disruption? Have they considered the possibility that changing the programming schedule and topics of a conference which is already underway might be difficult, and it's that difficulty, rather than "censorship," that prevented the programming from immediately changing to suit the protester's whims? Why claim censorship and closed-mindedness, when the protesters were approached for a conversation and responded with aggression? Moreover, Wisdom 2.0 organizers have announced that they plan a discussion around these topics as a direct result of the protest. That doesn't sound like closed-minded censorship to me.

I think the protesters have a very worthwhile cause, and I agree with their message, as well as their call to pay attention to these issues. However, I think their way of trying to accomplish this was neither skillful nor mindful. Doing it in this way only increases the chance of hostility and misunderstanding.

sunmoonlight's picture

This is a really messy situation. People are frustrated and there is definitely an impact of tech on SF, both in housing and in the culture of SF as well. Moreover there is a huge and growing problem with inequality across America. This is not to assign blame, it's just to point out the facts. I'm sure many, if not most, readers will be sensitive to these concerns.

That being said, I don't fault the protestors one bit for the way that they managed their side. Perhaps even the organizers did the best they could at the moment (though it would have been ideal to anticipate the issues and build them into the program). justkelly seems to wish that everything was smoother, or that there wouldn't be as much emotion (I'm paraphrasing) and "aggression" - but this is exactly part of the problem. We think that Buddhism means one should keep our lids on all the time and never be angry or upset - but this is impossible and inhuman to expect. It is really silencing to expect "proper behavior" when there is a crisis. What is right speech and action when people and principles you care about are threatened? There's no one right answer, I would suggest. (But in fact, the protestors were pretty much peaceful as far as I can tell from the account - organizers being met with "aggression" sounds a little overblown to me - what did they do, shout a bit? Maybe shove back when they were being shoved? C'mon, I think we can handle that.)

I think the greater issue for Wisdom 2.0 is what the author states - spiritual bypassing. We can use mindfulness instrumentally to help us stay calm, focused, and productive, we can imbue ourselves with good feeling about what we do in life - and none of this is bad - or we can go further and cultivate compassion and find a way to care for people who are being hurt by the situations we exist in and contribute to. I wonder - what are tech companies doing to address the housing crisis? What are tenants and landlords doing? What are the politicians doing? How can we have a diverse community in SF and the Bay Area that preserves the character of what's special about San Francisco? These are difficult questions psychologically and functionally. Perhaps Tricycle will follow up and give this issue a spin that is missing in MSM; perhaps Buddhists and other compassionate people can be bridge builders between those with wealth and power and those without. That would be ideal.

But we can expect it to be messy, sometimes confrontational, and often dissatisfying. That's what dialogue looks like, sometimes.

I do agree that when we get locked into a "friends vs enemies" mindset, we can get too stuck in our own patterns. My question is this - is it possible for us to become a city and a village, with room for all?

Ravi Chandra, M.D.

rpurser's picture

I agree with Dr. Chandra here. Why doesn't Wisdom 2.0 reflect a little more, perhaps even mindfully, to consider that their response (or should I say non-response) to the "unexpected and unplanned" protesters looks (at least to those of us who have not drank the Silicon Valley mind-techie kool aid), a lot like a form of civilized oppression? The so-called "moment of practice" to "check in with our bodies" -- is a very symbolic moment here -- as it illustrates how mindfulness is being used to tune out that which makes the speakers (and instructed audience) uncomfortable (pesky protesters weren't on the program!). The smooth operation of conference life was subject to what we might call disruptive impermanence? Should we have expected the presenters to change their planned talks, no, of course not. This was a moment of practice that presented itself alright, and a creative, attentively virtuosic response could have made by any of the speakers, or Soren for that matter. But instead, they chose to bury their heads in the sand, oops--I mean engage in mindfulness practice (through paying attention to the present moment, nonjudgmentally?)--which illustrates the moral bankrupty of this ethically neutral formulation of mindfulness in action.

I am sure the British colonialists also didn't plan for Gandhi to disrupt their smooth running occupation.

Why didn't the protesters "reach out" before hand? What exactly does this mean? Does that mean paying the $900 ticket in order to get on the program? Could that perhaps be a slight impediment for a few? Only now do we see a trickle of a response, and still a very condescending one at that....without this protest, do you really think Wisdom 2.0 organizers would even care about this issue?

But what really troubles me here is Wisdom 2.0 press release and lame attempt at damage control. Aggression? It appears to me on the video that the real aggressors were Wisdom 2.0's stage hands (whether they were volunteers or not doesn't matter a whole lot). The fact is that the leader of Wisdom 2.0 was right there on the stage...did the protesters really have to be man-handled in that manner and get into an aggressive tug-of-war with one of the young women? Couldn't Soren Gordhamer have intervened and called off the tough guys and allowed just a few minutes of acknowledging the protesters and their issues to be aired?

Obviously the latest Wisdom 2.0 damage-control Press Release is trying to denigrate the credibility of the protesters, and to accuse them of being the aggressors.

Let's keep in mind that the Google managers on stage did not appear to be under any sort of physical threat or harm. Yet, it seems quite hard to fathom that these same managers were not aware of how Google is implicated in much of the protesters grievances. Sitting silently under the pretense of "being mindful and spiritual," being above it all--indeed, where the "moment of practice" is to tune out the disturbance (let someone else take of it)--in effect, sitting there in silence constitutes a form of public support of this ongoing institutional problem. Silence was not golden in this instance, but rather communicated, even if inadvertently, a tacit endorsement and complicity in the oppression of renters being evicted. At worst, it amounts to a public act of moral abandonment of the victims of oppression, which the protesters were acting as a voice and conduit.

What happened on stage is a symbolic microcosm of how the secular mindfulness movement lacks a moral compass--and is adrift, led along by mass marketing, Western consumerist values, and utilitarian performance enhancement.

Wisdom 3.0 anyone?

owlmonkey's picture

Was the protest about secular mindfulness practice, like Jon Kabat-Zinn's Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (who also presented there), or was this about rent control? If the banner had said something about secular mindfulness being a "sell out" that would have been really interesting in this particular conference. Because the conference attempts to be inclusive of more than just Buddhism or Hinduism. That would have been really juicy and probably would have offended most of the people there.

rpurser's picture

The protest was about evictions and much more, but the response, which reflects on the ethos (or lack thereof) was about corporate mindfulness--on display as their self-proclaimed exemplary behavior "posture of respect?", etc--embracing the present moment nonjudgmentally (aka, MBSR/JKZ).

albill's picture

What exactly did this conference have to do with evictions, again?

rodney.orr's picture

Thank you for this wake-up call, Amanda. "Lost is the bigger picture of the teachings that asks us to consider our interdependence and to move beyond self-help and addressing only our own suffering."

ANDREWCOOPER24's picture

Thank you, Amanda.

rpurser's picture

The mindfulness movement may look back on your actions similar to Rosa Parks, who refused to sit in the back of the bus.

albill's picture

Not likely. She's protesting the wrong people and getting attention instead of actually going to the root of the problem, which is the elected government of San Francisco.