Friday 27 October 2017

The uselessness of mindfulness

Mindfulness is being heavily (albeit dishonestly) pushed by many institutions at present; the practice is useless at best - harmful in its strategic intent.

If Western institutions were teaching prayer in the absence of Christianity, that people should just be praying but not to anybody or anything in particular - but because the process of praying is somehow good-for-you, the incoherence would be obvious.

Mindfulness is a fragment of Buddhism - a partial means to the ends of Buddhism, in which context it makes sense. But what kind of sense can it make without any religious objective?

Well, this religious practice is supposed to be a kind of therapy, or to make people feel good. That's all. It is like advocating going to church every week to enjoy the singing. In other words, it is shallow and at the level of pleasure.

But mindfulness is presented as if it is a spiritual activity, good for the spirit.

The question is why, aside from bureaucratic empire-building and perhaps the promise of a more effective or compliant workforce, mindfulness is being pushed - by whoever is pushing it.

My best guess is subversion of religion. Promoting pseudo-Buddhism is subversive of Christianity (in a Western context) and also subversive of any possibility of genuine Buddhism.

The implicit teaching of mindfulness education is that what matters about religion is not truth, but how you feel - putting religion on a level with entertainment, social media, alcohol and drugs.

Since real religion is the only genuine threat to the mainstream modern Establishment - this is  plausible to me. 

The usual 'at least' cover story is used to protect the subversion; 'at least' people will have a little bit of religion, 'at least' they will be encouraged to set aside some time away from media for thinking (albeit thinking about nothing, and with no purpose)...

Maybe mindfulness could be a gateway to real religion? This might be semi-plausible if almost exactly the same kind of content-free 'spritituality' hadn't already been tried multiple times since the Beat generation of the 1950s and the hippies of the 60-70s and the New Age movement of the 80s... 

Well, did all this partial and diluted religiosity lead to more genuine religiousness, to more genuine spirituality? Look around - the obvious answer is no No NO! It led to, facilitated or permitted a vast expansion of materialist bureaucracy and totalitarianism on one side; a culture of hedonic distraction on the other.

And there we have our answer as to why mindfulness is popular among the bureaucrats and micro-managers...


Chiu ChunLing said...

Really, the key to bureaucracy is mindlessness, the forfeiture of not only spiritual awareness, but every degree of conscious evaluation of whether what you are doing makes any kind of sense. Instead the bureaucrat is reduced to habitual and slavish compliance with procedure without ever examining why the procedure exists, what purpose it is nominally designed to accomplish, whether it ever has or ever will conceivably accomplish the pretended purpose, or even whether it is being carried out as initially conceived rather than distorted by accidents as ludicrous as typos in a regulation or pages of a manual being out of order.

The slack-jawed incomprehension of a typical bureaucrat merely being confronted with a portion of their regulations that they have not habitually referenced before (or even just recently) is something to behold...if one doesn't have to see it more than once.

But one should be accustomed to bureaucracy using terminology to mean the exact opposite of the established meaning in rational usage.

August said...

Having been very much influenced by Ludwig Von Mises, I know that humans tend to act because of some sort of unease. We tend to not act when we are sated, comfortable, etc... So, it seems to me mindfulness practices are encouraged because they take our attention away from our senses of unease and put them on whatever is present before us at the moment.

The established order wants to remain the established order. If we pay attention to our unease, we will notice injustice and become more and more determined to end the established order. If we ignore our unease, and pay attention to the present, we will be less likely to become a threat to the established order.

Bruce Charlton said...

@August - My concern is that half measures are of no value in this situation - and however uneasy we may be, we will not know *what* to do unless we have the right metaphysical framework: the Christian one.

August said...

Yes. Especially with this particular case, we can be sure that most action would not result in good outcomes. But in terms of why the established order would be for mindfulness- they are afraid of any action because they are ridiculously brittle at this point.

Bruce Charlton said...

@August - I see what you mean - I hadn't thought of it. It would fit with the general trend to make life 'virtual' - and to promote ever wider use of drugs that dull sensibility (antipsychotics, anticonvulsants, SSRI antidepressants etc - probably 10 percent or more of Western populations take such agents - especially among the ruling elites).