Buddhism, Interview, Society, Spirituality

Episode 34: McMindfulness — The New Capitalist Spirituality with Ron Purser

RON'S+BOOKS+PILE
Ron is not afraid of controversy with his new book: McMindfulness — How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality, out this July. He also hosts the Mindful Cranks podcast. Let’s start out by saying that:

“Dr. Purser is an ordained  Zen Dharma teacher in the Korean Zen Taego Order.  He received ordination in April 2013 from the Venerable Jongmae Park, Partriarch of the Taego Korean Zen order for the overseas sangha. His Dharma name is Hae Seong, which means “The Nature of Wisdom.”

As a long-time practitioner, he really knows his stuff! In our episode, we go over just how the modern mindfulness movement, founded on the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) programme convinces that “a little mindfulness goes a long way” — and all the repercussions that can have.

We go into detail how mindfulness has been hijacked to serve the capitalist system. This truth is Ron’s passion.

My passion is how it has been torn apart from its very meaning, as a way to enlightenment on this planet (and all other planets and universes, also).

So, how has modern mindfulness been severed from its Buddhist roots? Well, here’s a hint: in the Sattipatthana Sutta that the Buddha laid out on mindfulness, a lot is missing from the modern mindfulness programmes.

Bhikku Bodhi lays out on Accesstoinsight.org:

“The practice of Sattipatthana meditation centers on the methodical cultivation of one simple mental faculty readily available to all of us at any moment. This is the faculty of mindfulness, the capacity for attending to the content of our experience as it becomes manifest in the immediate present. What the Buddha shows in the sutta is the tremendous, but generally hidden, power inherent in this simple mental function, a power that can unfold all the mind’s potentials culminating in final deliverance from suffering.

To exercise this power, however, mindfulness must be systematically cultivated, and the sutta shows exactly how this is to be done. The key to the practice is to combine energy, mindfulness, and clear comprehension in attending to the phenomena of mind and body summed up in the “four arousings of mindfulness”: body, feelings, consciousness, and mental objects.

At the heart of the matter, modern mindfulness misses that mindfulness is made to lead to true and final liberation from all suffering, or Nibanna. (This is simply one way to waking up out of the vast collection of the Buddha’s methods.)

Without taking into account other factors beyond “simply paying attention to the present moment” — a person will (more than likely not) magically become free or cultivate wisdom. In fact, this is just another form of suffering, and this can be proven. If simply paying attention to the present moment worked, then we would see evidence of this in the external world as greed, desire, and hatred decrease: that is its purpose, after all. Is this the case? Not at all!

Google, Apple, Nike and other major corporations have repeatedly used secular, modern mindfulness training as part of their curriculums. Marissa Levin admits this, in just one article underpinning the mindfulness/capitalist situation:

“Once the Eastern practice became popular as a method of self-help, it quickly became a tool within businesses to increase productivity and well-being of employees.

‘With business meditation, we have a practice that is extrapolated from Buddhism and secularized so that all of the theological underpinnings are swept away,” says Catherine Albanese, author of A Republic of Mind and Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion.'”

Mindfulness, as a business model, completely disintegrates the value of mindfulness as a way to liberation from wordly suffering for all beings. As a business model at all, to increase productivity for corporations, lends itself to be a materialistic substitute for Reality. This is in direct contradiction to its purpose. B. Bodhi goes on to say, “This [mindfulness] is the only satisfying way for the seeker of truth when the diffuseness [papañca] of the external world with its thin layer of culture, comfort and allurement, ceases to be interesting and is found to lack true value.

Also, modern mindfulness misses out on the other facets of the Sutta, including:

Contemplating the body in mindfulness of breathing, bodily positions/postures, eating/drinking/walking/speaking, and…

Reflection on the Repulsiveness of the Body:
Ex) “And further, O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu reflects on just this body hemmed by the skin and full of manifold impurity from the soles up, and from the top of the hair down, thinking thus: ‘There are in this body hair of the head, hair of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, fibrous threads (veins, nerves, sinews, tendons), bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, pleura, spleen, lungs, contents of stomach, intestines, mesentery, feces, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, solid fat, tars, fat dissolved, saliva, mucus, synovic fluid, urine.”

Reflection on the Modes of Materiality: (Cemetary Contemplations 1-9)
Ex) “And further, O bhikkhus, if a bhikkhu, in whatever way, sees a body dead, one, two, or three days: swollen, blue and festering, thrown into the charnel ground, he thinks of his own body thus: ‘This body of mine too is of the same nature as that body, is going to be like that body and has not got past the condition of becoming like that body.”

Contemplation of Feeling:
Ex) “Thus he lives contemplating [painful, pleasureable, and neutral] feelings in feelings internally, or he lives contemplating feeling in feelings externally, or he lives contemplating feeling in feelings internally and externally. He lives contemplating origination-things in feelings, or he lives contemplating dissolution-things in feelings, or he lives contemplating origination-and-dissolution-things in feelings. Or his mindfulness is established with the thought: ‘Feeling exists,’ to the extent necessary just for knowledge and remembrance and he lives independent and clings to naught in the world.”

Contemplation of Consciousness:
Ex) “Here, O bhikkhus, a bhikkhu understands the consciousness with lust, as with lust; the consciousness without lust, as without lust; the consciousness with hate, as with hate; the consciousness without hate, as without hate; the consciousness with ignorance, as with ignorance; the consciousness without ignorance, as without ignorance; the shrunken state of consciousness, as the shrunken state; the distracted state of consciousness, as the distracted state…”

And so much more…

Ron and I go into detail on how modern mindfulness and capitalism are satisfied holding hands. See www.ronpurser.com to contact him.

 

 

Society, Spirituality

Spirituality and Running: Mid-season Blog

real-deal
Running Through Europe & Beyond

Running is a bit like being pregnant; there are many stages, many phases, emotions rising, trees subsiding… sometimes you don’t want to, but you do it anyway.

We all have a human form and a spirit form. What that means is that the human part is concerned with ‘lower’ desires and habitual ways of interacting with the world — this can be anything from low self-esteem, to drinking too much, feeding anger, being grouchy at circumstances, and responses that are reactive rather than genuine. Then we have the human spirit: the one who breaks boundaries, tries new things and forms new responses, feels the life flowing through the body, interacts spontaneously in actions, and loses sense of time or self.

For the past four years, I have been regularly dedicating my spirit form to running. This is primarily to remain disciplined and to break boundaries and fear. There is a human pattern to it — when my focus is set on the pain in my body, giving into a drop in energy and getting lazy mid-run with motivation, or being self-conscious that “I’m a person running on the street” with other beings moving among me.

But, there’s also a spiritual element that keeps me going strong: moving my gaze up to focus just on the canopy of trees above my head in the park and noticing what kind of clouds are in the sky. Smiling at passerby to reach out from “my little world” and connect with them beyond boundaries. Remembering that it’s not serious but a fun little dance of consciousness, throwing my limbs forward like a rabbit or mouse or frog.

I am sharing this with you not to boast (what good would that do, anyway?!) but to show you the power of the human mind and soul.

Neither outer nor inner conditions have ever stopped these legs from getting their work done, though. Since 2015, between 5-10km most days of the year…

I’ve run…

  • The day after my dad’s death: dedicated to him.

  • On Christmas Day, New Years’ Eve, and New Years’ Day (after a few drinks…)

  • In the depths of winter, rain, hail, and 40° heat

  • When my emotions were the lowest of the low, dragging every step

  • In between working 5 days per week while making music albums, podcasting, and painting

  • Without food or water up to 10k

  • With my eyes closed

  • Attached to a race dog

  • Through forests, foreign cities, canals, on the side of the Himalayan highway (with Indian drivers), and getting lost in my own city

  • Singing “Hare Krishna” the whole way, chanting mantras, hearing podcasts, and thinking up podcasts or writing songs…

I’ve been afraid that my consciousness would leave my body, being so high… and afraid to sh*% myself in the middle of busy streets after way too much plane travel or recovering from illness — (it’s a real risk! “Runner’s trots”, you know.)

And all this time, this has been solo; to never run a race or compete with anyone else. I’ve been my own best companion.

What does this say about the human spirit? If a small, 5’2″ woman can get up every morning and make it happen, then what else is possible for human beings?

Here is a great podcast to get you into the flow of the possiblity of what we can achieve when spiritual energy is behind a practice. This man holds a 52-day race in New York City where the equivelant of 2 marathons per day are run by participants:

Enjoy, and comment with your ‘impossible feats’ from beyond!

Interview, Spirituality

Episode 7: Interview with artist Demi on Italian Politics and Ego Death


demi

This is a self-portrait of artist Demi, whose works and website you can find here. He is inspired by the moon, which is a symbol of stillness in the chaos and is a grounding principle in his meditation sessions. He also paints abstract and wild portrayals of the female, geometry, and nature.

In our episode, I want to ask who he is as a person, an artist, and a non-dual creature. We never know how the conversation will flow, yet he delves straight into the fascism happening in Italy right now… he left Italy to set up a better life for him and his daughter in a mission to express himself creatively in London.

Artist-to-artist, we know how challenging it is to be able to paint in an environment that’s constantly in flux with the same hem-and-haw of change that every city goes through: destruction and creation, especially concerning the unrelenting property-development of our artistic community in Hackney. Just as the seasons change, so does the community but to a less predictable degree. (And it frustrates the hell out of us, sometimes!)

Concerning our spiritual nature, which Demi avidly explores, he is a constantly playing with material reality and is ultra-curious on how this whole paradigm operates on a macro and micro level. Experimentation with plant medicines, which we go into in the episode, has been part of his search for truth, expansion, and the divine. He will not stop until he reaches the final frontier and is no stranger to the yin-yang of passing through darkness and light, as we all have to on this planet earth.

Enjoy, and it was a pleasure! Don’t forget to email me at curiousbodhi@zoho.com to be featured and meet, human-to-human and spirit-to-spirit.

Interview, Spirituality

Episode 5 – Interview with Tattooist Jeffrey Segundo on Following Instincts


image00028Tattoo Art by Jeffrey Segundo

As the birds chirp in the backdrop to this episode, I speak to Jeffrey Segundo straight from Melbourne, Australia where we have an organic conversation about his humanness and spirituality.

We met when he made the decision to do a guest spot at our tattoo studio, Fifth Dimension Tattoo & Piercing in London. Jeff really inspired us with his positive attitude and the willingness to be open to any situation that stood before him — he’s such a natural character, and it’s such a blessing to be able to have met and keep in touch with him! He gives “going with the flow” a new name.

All artists have the gift of taking the mundane and making it more precious, more beautiful. This is exactly what Jeff does with his tattoo art form, as he’s been practicing for the past eight years, and he also does so with his gratitude for life. You can connect with Jeff at @juxtagram on Instagram.

Enjoy listening with us in this podcast, and please be in touch at curiousbodhi@zoho.com if you have a story about your own spiritual awakening.