2019-07-28 Mindfulness

@emacsen recently posted a link to The problem of mindfulness.

To me, mindfulness always felt a bit like a cop out. Yes, you might need it in times of trouble. But then you need to change your life, work on your situation, make it less likely for these problems to reoccur. Otherwise, mindfulness just makes you better adapted to the shit show that is our lives, our politics, our work culture.

At least that’s when I need to remind myself that everything is fleeting: when surgery looms, when disease threatens our loved ones, when people are desperate, when we slave away our lives and get no respite, when we lose ourselves in work and obligations. But what we really want is change! We want both adaptation to the circumstances we cannot change and at the same time, we want actual change to the circumstances we find ourselves in. When mindfulness and meditation make us unwilling to pursue change, that’s where I have a problem.

Maybe that’s also why I lost my interest in zen buddhism. I didn’t want to read more about this or that school, riddle, teacher or whatever. Reading is not the way. I don’t believe in detachment from life, from love, from our existence. To me, it’s not all suffering. I don’t want to go to nirvana. We’ve made a lot of progress and life is very good for many of us. Therefore, we should work on that. Make life better for us and for our neighbors, for new arrivals, for everybody. Detachment and aestheticism lets us abscond from the responsibility for our lot and makes us apolitical, turns us into sheeple. I do. It agree with that.

And like the author of that mindfulness essay, I think we need to be able to feel anger and we need to know that we don’t agree with this or that because not to feel and not to know is not the answer. It’s the exit.

If I were a tyrant in power, a boss trying to exploit my workers, an owner trying to squeeze every last drop out of the people that owe me, then I’d tell them about mindfulness. Like Christianity in the old days, any opiate will do as long as it keeps the masses down, as long as it keeps the revolutionaries distracted and happy. Mindful, but ineffectual.

Then again, if your in a dead end right now, helpless, crushed by capitalism, and mindfulness helps you bear the cross, then do it. Help yourself. Self care is essential. And then, when you get some respite, get some help. Make those changes, if you can.

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