Before reading any further just Google Money and Meditation. You may be surprised to what pops up.
What started out as an extension of meditation has now become a buzzword in itself. Among corporate types it has become woven into the very culture of the whole concept of work/life balance. In the military mindfulness creates a focused sniper. In both it also creates a very focused psychopath. How do you tell the two apart? Or how do you tell who practices me, me, me mindfulness without regard for those around them?
In many ways mindfulness enables people to do away with the ethics and values we all consider to be the backbone of society. Mindfulness can provide people with a neo-meditation that is good for you, but that will not make you a better person without the proper rules to live by.
Letting go and being present may make you happy, they may empty your cup, but once your cup is empty, how do you make sure that the water you refill it with is clean and pure? Many mindfulness teachers are too busy branding themselves for their next speaking engagement, the next one-on-one client visit, or the next corporate presentation to bother teaching their clients how to provide a larger perspective on values and on life in general.
Yoga grew to be an $80 billion business in 2015, because many of its teachers dropped the ethics that made it so attractive to its early practitioners. It is also how meditation grew from nothing into the multi-million dollar meditation centers that include MDNFL or the recent bourgeois Inscape, complete with gift shop selling the trendy Los Angeles/Chinese herb “dusts.”
How do we take the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and apply them to help the world become a better place? Simply, we don’t. It is simply not in the nature of many people to simply let things be. In a world of rampant individualism the Ten Commandments or the Buddhist Precepts are quickly being rewritten. What were intended as laws and guidelines to live by, have centuries been slowly, modified. The intent of Thou Shalt Not Kill has been effectively changed to Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless I Say It’s Okay.
The same is true for how the concept of Spirituality evolved into Spiritual Materialism. What was once a search for purity, truth and peace has quickly become one where it is more important to have the right outfit than a right mind.
At a yoga studio I recently overheard one student say, “She is so Zen, just look at her hair. I have to have it.”
When did it somehow became more important to have the Zen look than to actually be balanced in a serene way, or the best designed little house than it is to live in simplicity? The television now has program about having the right design for your “tiny house,” rarely mentioning why a tiny home makes more sense than a McMansion.
Something as simple as yoga pants have followed the same path. There are now cut-outs that strategically show just the right amount of skin in just the right places to be sexy and slimming. We managed to turn a practice of thousands of years into a physical workout designed to make practitioners as “body-perfect” as can be.
I am not surprised by this, nor do I waste a lot of time marveling about it. To each their own. Everyone is free to practice in their own ways and for their own reasons. Just don’t be surprised when the mindful sniper turns his or her well trained mind on one of us. Because if we do not teach people how to question themselves and their practices, if we fail to teach people the ethics and values behind meditation, mindfulness and yoga, it will all be for naught – quickly subverted to yet another materialistic path to follow.
These are the lessons that used to be taught in Buddhist and Yogic temples. These are the directives that could be found within the communities of priests and monks who provided direction on how to keep practices pure when refilling the cups that were so freely emptied.
The only way to prevent Karmen Ghia to be mistaken for Carpe Diem [which actually happened] is to teach people the essence of the various practices rather than just the veneer that lies on top, a veneer that is easily marred.
If you think I am over-reacting, just wait to see what happens to the purity of mindfulness in five or ten years.
Once we humans get a hold of something we tend to subvert it into the very thing it was created to work against. If you doubt this, just go back and Google “Money” and “Meditation”. You may be surprised to what pops up…