Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beyond McMindfulness

David Loy is one of the authors of Beyond McMindfulness, an informative article about the commoditization of meditation and how it is used to reinforce corporate status quo. Corporations are a agog over it because it reduces stress and improves efficiency, but they don’t want the Buddhism that goes with it. The latter includes a context for meditation that includes ethics, compassion and rightmindedness, which are not compatible with corporate bottom lines, labor maltreatment and environmental degradation. Hence corporate promotion of the secularized version keeps the benefits but eliminates the moral code that would challenge its own agenda. Such a divorce enhances the abilities of an executive practicing the technique to more effectively abuse his employees via ‘productivity’ quotas, which tends to mean more overtime work for a smaller salary. If that’s stressful for the employee, well then meditate to reduce the stress and be more efficient. The problem is reinforced rather than fixed.

The authors also lay bare the fallacy that if the executive or employee practices meditation then the social good behavior will automatically follow. This has been a major rationalization of the kennilinguists with the leadership training  programs. We give them the tech and the tech is so ‘integral’ it will transform them for the good of all. Bullshit. It makes them better bastards since the issue of corporate greed and the inherent abuses of capitalism are completely by-passed. The authors are reminded of corporate sensitivity training in the 60s, where executives were taught to listen and respect the worker’s feelings. What is was in effect was a means of making the worker feel ‘heard’ and then doing absolutely nothing to remedy their complaints. Having been in corporations I’m well aware of this social engineering, having bed fed it many times with no corporate change whatsoever. Now corporate meditation training is the newest means to mollify the masses for the profit of the few. Welcome to integral or conscious capitalism.

Of course I’ve had similar complaints about traditional Buddhism itself, in that while they might seek to aid the poor or downtrodden with food, shelter etc. they have tended not to themselves get involved in politics to change the socio-economic conditions that created such situations. There too there has been a kind of belief that if those helped will then take up the meditative and ethical discipline then this will magically change not only them but those around them. The engaged Buddhism movement seeks to counter this fallacious reasoning, noting that to effect broader political change requires broader political action in addition to meditative and ethical training.

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