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The Myth of Mindfulness

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umair haque

There’s a craze sweeping the globe. As old as time. You can’t go a moment without hearing the glorious benefits of mindfulness and meditation being proclaimed. And yet. Here we are, in the ruins of modernity. Fascism’s rising while the global economy’s stagnating. That means very real pain for millions, billions, of real humans. And we’re…meditating?

Spiritual Heroin for Implosive Capitalism

If the Buddha were alive today, he probably wouldn’t say: go meditate. He’d say: go fix your societies so there’s less suffering in them.

Meditation Isn’t a Substitute for a Working Society

Meditation isn’t a substitute for a working society. It’s point is not to let us turn our backs on our neighbors and peers. If that is all it is, then it is better not to do it at all. Because we aren’t really meditating.

All the great spiritual masters say: everything is meditation. Watching a sunset, doing work with care, being gentle with people. All this is meditation. When we separate it as an activity we perform now and then, we’re not really meditating at all. So what are we doing?

You Don’t Need Spiritual Heroin if You’re Not Broken

We are using the techniques of meditation for the wrong ends. To escape, run away, dull the pain.

Like taking spiritual heroin.

But you don’t need spiritual heroin if you’re not broken. So what’s breaking us?

Is the rise of mindfulness at the precise moment capitalism’s melting down a coincidence?

I don’t think so.

Passive meditation and aggressive, savage capitalism are perfect bedfellows. The passivity of meditation is the perfect antidote, the ultimate American response to aggressively cruel capitalism.

Why? It’s personal responsibility taken to an extreme, isn’t it? You are hurt profoundly by broken institutions and failed leaders. What should you do? Challenge them? Rebel? No, go meditate. It’s your responsibility to not feel any pain. To numb it, escape it, bury it.

In all the senses above, mindfulness is capitalism’s latest greatest product. It needs a drug to pacify the broken soldiers on its front lines – and the collateral human damage – when the savagery of battle is over. We can meditate ourselves into oblivion right back to the Stone Age. But no spiritual master worth their insight would say that is worthwhile.

What’s the cheapest and most effective drug there is? Real therapy costs money. Real drugs have side effects. Capital wants pure efficiency. No cost, maximum benefit. Meditation is the perfect drug for capitalism to finish the vicious job of eating itself.

Someone’s got to do it, after all. Even though it will break their soul. What do you do with a broken soul? Find the cheapest drug you can.

The Purpose of True Meditation is Preventing Human Suffering. Not Absolving It.

But that contradicts the very purpose of true meditation. Not to bury the pain, the injustice, the cruelty. But to prevent it.

Mindfulness the way it’s being practiced right now doesn’t prevent cruelty. It excuses it, justifies it, sanctions it. Spiritual heroin is only really needed for fighting a war so savage the everyday horror must be numbed.

You’re a VP at Cruelty, Inc. Every day, you’re asked to do things that are morally repellent, abhorrent, deeply damaging to the very society you live in. Prey on the elderly, exploit the young, jettison the frail. It hurts. How do you deal with the pain?

Lucky for you, your HR department's running daily mandatory meditations. So you go. And you learn how to numb the pain a little. To detach. Float away.

Hey, if there’s no self, you can’t be held accountable for your moral failings, right?

So in learning to detach from your moral failings you numb the pain. All that’s really happening is your production of human cruelty is being excused, justified, encouraged, maximised.

This isn’t real meditation. It is like using a cross to beat a child. It is a great violence against true meditation. Real meditation isn’t detaching yourself after cruelty, but learning to do no harm in the first place. That is why meditation is a humble, constant way – not a disjointed “activity”.

True Meditation Is Thisness

If you want to really meditate, to be truly mindful, what should you do?

The goal of true meditation is to make contact with the true self. The me in you and the you in me. Pure being. The raw stuff of existence.

To get there, you must develop an awareness of awareness. See yourself seeing. Then the inner eye turn inwards, and sees the universe reflected in your soul.

Once you have a glimpse of this turning, then you suddenly know that all the cruelty and violence you have ever done has only been visited upon yourself. Karma. And so you know why happiness arises from finding one’s self in others, and others in one. That is reality, and happiness is just living it for a moment.

Now you understand what truly is, the greatest of all the universal laws of being. I am in you. You are in me. I must never harm you. But only act to lift you into the light. Then and only then am I fulfilled, because I am in harmony with genuine existence itself.

Now there is. You are. Really here. Otherwise, I am lost in illusion, delusion, self-destruction, ignorance. Only the moment that I love is the instant I truly exist.

www.umairhaque.com

Washington, DC

September 2016

 

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