Buddhism, Interview, Society, Spirituality

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

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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.

 

 

Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, Psychedelics, Plant Medicines, Entheogens, Society, Spirituality

Episode 33: The Pantheistic Approach — Interview with Anish


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Anish exclaimed to me,

“I’m surprised you invited me on the show! It’s not like I wrote a book or something…”

No, but we are all writing our own books all the time in our own heads and hearts. That’s what makes us human beings. It’s how we interpret that book that can contain wisdom-gems. We all desire to extract meaning by adding something, taking something away, or changing something. Some of us sincerely try to find an interpretation and a way out of dukkha and turn on our spiritual wheels for guidance.

Such guidance is present with Anish as he makes use of the fact he was born in a Hindu society in Nepal when he had to leave for the United States at a young age. It was in the USA that his yagya, his fire, was lit for finding meaning in a pantheistic approach by seeing god in ALL his innumerable and various forms!

It is mistaken that Hinduism (and by that, I mean Sanatana Dharma) is a religion of “many gods” or is polytheistic. In fact, “pantheism” is just another label that is not exactly correct; not even “panentheism” will do. Any “ism” cannot stand for truth. Not even peace can stand for peace! Whatever or whoever is worshipped — Shiva, Laksmhi, a flower, a tree, your mother or father, the sky, Brahman, or one’s own heart — is fair play, because the parts cannot be separated from the whole.

Both are necessary: duality and non-duality.

Oh, and we get into psychedelics a little bit if you’re interested how those helped in his spiritual growth and purpose…

Anish has started a podcast called Trippy Talks at: http://www.soundcloud.com/trippytalks if you want to get hold of him!

Buddhism, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 32: Key Buddhist Terminology


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Listen to hear about the practical meanings of:

Emptiness / Shunyata
Non-duality
Nibbana
Dukkha
&
Sankhara

Death & Rebirth, Interview, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 31: Near-Death & New Life Experience — Interview with Artisha Bolding


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I am always amazed by near-death experiences, because they are so prominent throughout all cultures and they really show what it means to be a human being on this plane. We all have different notions about what happens after death, and it is our right to explore this realm, because this is a fate that is inevitable for all of us. Here is what I have found, so far, about near-death experiences and experiences leading up to death:

  • The cultural background one is born into factors heavily in the experience; if somebody was raised a Christian, she is more likely to meet Jesus or see relatives in a “heaven” landscape. If the experiencer is from India, she may see Krishna or interpret the light as Brahman. This is also the case for many psychadelics/entheogens. The experiencer, dependent on her own individual make-up, will tend to have a trip to suit whatever makes up their mind’s experiences.
  • On a similar note, friends and family are often found to appear. The onlooker, a nurse or even living family members in the room with the dying person, are likely to pass these off as “hallucinations”, yet they are more-real-than-real to the dying. Strange sounds and frequencies, sights, and smells that are not normally sensed are presented to the dying — as are changes in behaviour that might seem strange to those familiar with the dying person.
  • Preparations for death are quite natural and normal. For example, The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a manual specifically laid out for a smooth journey to the other side so one is not bewildered and afraid of the death experience. The book even outlines the specific “hallucinations” and changes in behaviour, breath, body, speech, and actions of the dying so relatives and friends can ease them into the next and pretty foreign realm!

Along with these, the experiencer normally comes back with a new take on life and what they have been avoiding or not paying enough attention to. These can pull the person back on the right path and give them a whole new set of lungs! This is what happened to Artisha — I explain it as her spirit being reinvigorated and recharged to the illumination of the important while she is still in this physical body. And it’s really a blessing that she is still in this physical body, because she has used her near-death experience to make changes in her work life that spread into the world through media/broadcasting.

Meet Artisha at www.tboldmedia.com and feel free to contact her with your thoughts.

Anthony Chene Productions’ channel on Youtube is also an outstanding place to hear some amazing near-death experiences, presented in a clean and clear way.

Buddhism, Hinduism / Sanatana Dharma, Interview, Philosophy, Society, Spirituality

Episode 29: What is Advaita Vedanta? — Interview with Swamini Brahmaprajnananda


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As Swamini’s guru most eloquently put it: ‘In psychology there is no solution to the human problem. In Vedanta, there is no problem.’

Swamini was classically trained as a modern psychologist and moved her consciousness forward, based on the limits she saw within this framework. Thus, she trained under her Advaita Vedanta guru and master, H.H. Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati ji — renowned as the best teacher of his time until his death in 2015.

Advaita Vedanta is an ancient body of wisdom which has two functions: to realise God/Brahman fully and to live day-to-day life well. Advaita aims to realise non-duality and also relies on the Vedic Upanishads as core guides to truth and realisation. Thus, we see these two functions in action: direct recognition of God and also living a wise life.

As a follower of Advaita Zen (also called neo-Advaita), I have gained a deep intellectual understanding of non-duality, the formless, emptiness, and being. However, the experience or manifestation of these has been few and far between, leading me on a more gradual approach to enlightenment via the Buddhist path — because I found that I was still suffering, or experiencing dukkha (dissatisfaction) in my everyday life.

As a seer of this, Swamini points out to us what neo-Advaita lacks in terms of longevity for the awakener, which my direct experience has also taught me. She elaborates on these points in our episode with ease and grace:

1. Neo-Advaita lacks lineage, gurus, and disciples
2. Simple reliance upon the Netti-Netti method (Not-this, Not-this)
3. Based on the individual human being only, without a larger context
4. De-emphasis on the importance of a guru, prepatory practices, and maturity of the student/seeker
5. No scriptural basis, as scriptures point out ‘what cannot be figured out by my own perception or logic alone’

We also go over Hinduism in relation to Advaita and whether Buddhism and Advaita share the exact meaning in the face of spiritual awakening, where I believe that they do and Swamini believes they do not… unless we interpret the Buddhist Dharma in the correct way

Listen, enjoy, and send your questions to me at curiousbodhi@zoho.com and find Swamini at www.discoveratma.com and on The River of Wisdom Podcast.