There is a new Science Set Free podcast, which I listened to last night.
What The Greeks Can Teach Us
Mark Vernon and Rupert Sheldrake talk about issues in his book, "The Idler Guide to Ancient Philosophy". Beginning with the discussion of the Stoic philosophy, the centrality of the Logos to their thinking, its influence on early Christianity and various reiterations of ideas from them, in the "enlightenment" and period of scientism having the Logos stripped out of it and various other things. I found what they said about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, CBT, as being an unsuccessful attempt to use Stoicism while removing the very basis of their philosophy the most interesting part of it. Mark Vernon's comments about how the Swedish mental health establishment had gone whole hog for CBT and that, ten years after, studies showed that it had a short term effect but that the benefits couldn't be sustained, as people returned to their former habits of thought and, I'd guess, acts. He noted that the adoption of that ultra-rational system of mental therapy ended up costing the government mental health system more in the end because it just didn't work. The subsequent discussion of the attempt do mix CBT with the recent fad for "mindfulness" might turn out to be an attempt to return the spiritual component the materialists who invented CBT took out was interesting but I'm a lot less impressed with the authenticity of what almost everyone means when they say "mindfulness" these days and think it will turn out to be pretty much the same thing. I have come to look forward to new podcasts from Vernon and Sheldrake, they are all worth listening to, both for the breath and depth of the information they provide but, also, their calm engaged way of discussing it.
By chance, I also happened across this from Alternet, Mindfulness: Capitalism's New Favorite Tool for Maintaining the Status Quo and was especially struck at finding this subtitle at Alternet, the voice of materialist-atheist conventional thinking, "The meditative practice is being used in a way that betrays its anti-materialist roots." You can see how an anti-materialist like me would have to look twice to make sure they weren't seeing a mirage, at Alternet. I sometimes wonder if a real Buddhist who sees how the term is thrown around today might not feel sick to their stomach, I was just something of a student of Buddhism without being one and the spectacle of some of our more corrupt media figures, corporate titans and other ornaments of the Military-Industrial-Banking complex bastardizing some of the most central practices of a religion which is the opposite of everything they do makes me alternatively enraged and disgusted.
And, again, this usurpation of an ancient tradition and its meditation technology based in a rejection of materialist values, was aided by stripping it of its most essential, non-materialistic, character.
The pesky problem with meditation, now dubbed “mindfulness,” was its connection with Buddhism. Jon Kabat-Zinn, widely credited with introducing the concept of mindfulness to America in the 1970s, reportedly recognized the spread of the concept might be helped by loosening its religious ties. As a New York Times article on the practice explains, Kabat-Zinn redefined the technique, giving it a secular makeover and describing it as “[t]he awareness that arises through paying attention on purpose in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Without all that dogma attached, the opportunities for use were suddenly endless.
I have mentioned before how when I heard that Transcendental Meditation was fashionable among some of the corporate class but, especially, with those in the military I couldn't see any benefit to humanity if they could plunder and kill more efficiently. Efficiency at work was one of its selling points, moral discernment and self-criticism, not so much. I can't imagine how more mindful operators of killer drones who can kill with more detachment is going to do much good in the world. That kind of thing happened in Buddhism before, as Zen became a sort of class religion among the professional warriors of Japan. Egalitarian democracy in a peaceful society dedicated to the common good didn't result.
In listening to the podcast and reading the article, I realized that a lot of the same problems I have with this Karma Cola expropriation and bastardization of Eastern religion is exactly the same problem I have when it's done to Christianity, Judaism and, though I haven't seen it done in the same way, Islam. Though I think a lot of the "Sufi" explosion in the west probably is similar in its superficiality and, worst of all, the stripping out of the essentially non-materialist and moral content of the religion. If Satan can quote scripture for his ends he can certainly use the trappings of religion to promote goals opposite to why those religions came about. Removing the revelations of truth and morality that are the central core of those is part of both the use of those for evil and, then, the inevitable attacks on those religions by atheists and others who never cared about those central aspects of religion to start with. In the case of the dumbing down of mindfulness and Buddhism, not least of which is done by atheists, I think we're seeing exactly that scenario playing out, yet again.