Reflections & Thoughts

McMindfulness: a good bussines selling spirituality

If you haven’t listened about Donald Trump, feminism, racism, the latest iphone and Mindfulness movement (quasi religion) you probably need an update -seriously! But if you are familiar with all the terms above, please read this article! You may want to find out how you are consuming these  concepts,  specifically if you’re facing your growth journey and striving to become more of what you already are. 

I can’t remember exactly when this mindfulness movement popped out, it suddenly started to become so popular that even the army has mindfulness training programs. New western academics “experts” write books about yoga, meditation/mindfulness, give public talks and present you with the saint grail promising that with meditation you will be mindful (to be fully present in the moment).  The argument -leave aside all the judgments, pleasant or unpleasant thoughts and body sensations, concentrate in the moment, just be here in the now and be happy.  

Can we believe that there’s nothing wrong with being just present? At the end of the day it seems that a lot of people are benefiting from it, -what possibly could be wrong? That is exactly the point -no, they are not reaching any higher peace, they are becoming dull and stupid, pasive creatures that live accepting with compassion all what it is. This modern-capitalistic mindfulness movement is ready to be consumed, presented by an industry who sell “spirituality” but never practice it…Eh, wait a minute  -how did I come to this questionable conclusion? 

I personally feel  very attracted to the buddhist philosophy of life, most importantly to the doctrine and the values that they promote. The fact that in Theravada Buddhism -the tradition that I follow, the biggest authority in your life, ethics and conduct is you (no one else). Letting you know the hard and simple truth – you reap what you sow. In buddhist terms -Karma is the cycle of life. In popular terms -Whatever goes around comes around. 

Spoiler alert: Following the buddhist principle is VERY damn hard, it is easier to read and intellectually understand a book  explaining  the theoretical part of the buddhism, introducing you with The Noble Eightfold Path, the tree roots of all mental defilements, the three kinds of wisdom, the three characteristics of phenomena and so on… Nevertheless, Mindfulness leaves aside the duddhist core values and presents it  like they do with yoga, just the pretty and commercial side of it, ready to be rapidly consumed by us, no assimilation required, no ethics, just money as an exchange for spirituality. REAL mindfulness practice always keeps the buddhist values, meditation is certainly not sectarian but if you want to develop spiritually you need to practice these universal principles. Not intentionally harming you or others; for example. 

I’ve constantly tried to practice The Eightfold Path: Right speech, right action, right thought, right understanding, right effort, right awareness and right stillness (so badly called, concentration). This noble eightfold path was followed and preached by the Buddha itself. Everytime I read a new book is hard not to notice how some famous authors and magazines leave aside the buddhist values and focus on being here right now only,  no judgement, accept without questioning, and be compassionate for yourself and for others.  I won’t talk about the authors that  I believe are not even worth listening or reading, but I will recommend to you a great book that can help you to question yourself on what you are consuming and if it is just Mcmindfulness or real Mindfulness. 

Ronald E. Purser is the proponent of the word Mcmindfulness and author of the book Mcmindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality. In my opinion his book is greatly written, easy to understand, well documented and his arguments are just amazing, he backs up everything that points to awesome bibliography! I ignore how long it took him to write and do all the research to publish this excellent book but I most say it was worth the time, and I thank him to put this material for all who are interested in developing a strong and deep spirituality, not just to do yoga  twice a week or listen to an guided meditation  (who god knows who made it) for 5 min a day and believe that they are better humans being and more mindful. 

By the way, Ronald E Purser  has an amazing podcast that you can listen to if you want to learn more about Mindfulness, so called, The Mindful Cranks, available in Google and Apple podcasts. Please give it a try and support critical and deep Mindful movements!

Now, I will go straight to the point -what is the difference between Mindfulness and Mcmindfulness? Read carefully Mindfulness means to be present at this moment accepting it just how it is, acting with compassion and somehow without judgment, but it does not mean that you will accept social injustice and just accept that because it is what it is. We need to act and create a positive change in the world not by resisting it but by doing things instead of being present and passive about the real problems of the world, aming to contribute and make this place better. We can’t just accept violence, cruelty, exploitation, poorness, injustice, racism, homophobia, hatred, abuse, and many more troubles of our human condition.  Mcmindfulness on the other hand does not invite you to think other than being passive and happy just for being alive, whatever you experience don’t question, be grateful, do nothing. I wonder why and where the ethics were left behind?

Mcmindfulness is what you have been sold by the capitalist market, they want your money and they are getting it by you paying them hundreds or thousand of dollars for a book, a course or a talk selling you (again) the idea that when you’re done with it -automatically you become a better person. I wonder why buddhist monks even bother to take the votes if buying books, attending mindfulness courses, listening to Dhamma talks and afterwards having intellectual conversations about it seems to be the key point to develop in spiritual growth, promising that by “doing so” will heal you and all and somehow the people around you. 

Precisely because Mcmindfulness invites you to be passive, to not question the injustice in yourself, in your family, in your society and in the world, that’s why you will never be fully present because you will believe that by consuming “mindfulness” stuff you will be able to increase your spirituality. 

What do you think the monks do? Sit and meditate their whole life. The answer is -no, they work hard and have a lot of activities to promote peace and a ethical living, they run charity, don’t  charge or take money for their personal living, they give public talks, they write, they stand up for the rights of people, they don’t talk the walk, they walk the walk and experience what they preach. Their spirituality is not to buy but to give! Either yours should. 

The buddhist monks (not all of them, of course) are far from being pseudo spiritual gurus and intellectuals that are famous and recognized in the western world. But the new “Mcmindfulness gurus” work directly with governments (again politics-spirituality duality?) helping to train war soldiers to kill their enemies and do it mindfully and compassionately.  Those who charge you to download a meditation app, ask you to buy a gratitude journal, ask you to love the poor and help them but never question the reason for their condition. As Hélder Pessoa Câmara, a famous brazilian(1909–1999) catholic bishop said –When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why they are poor, they call me a communist. This is what Mcmindfulness wants from you: buy, consume and give but don’t think. 

This is the way Mindfulness movement belonging to buddhist values have been taken out and replaced by adopting the capitalist values, so rightly called by Ronald E. Purser “McMindfulness”, the neoliberals took the Ethos out of buddhism and presented it in a commercial version, where an important CEO, a president and a businessman can meditate twice a day and live in the present moment but never make its policies fair for all by taking their privileges out. No, to them -the sharks, we just need to accept that we are being exploited and work in the “mindfulness zone”: effectively, satisfied and content. 

Finally I just want to tell you that –McMindfulness is not helping you to heal or making you a better person.

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