After scientific research proved mindfulness meditation and physiological treatments derived from ancient Buddhist traditions work better than chemical-based medications1,2,3, mindfulness techniques have been growing in popularity in the Western world. The companies like Google Inc. have hired specialist to train their staff on mindfulness. American (USA) prisons officials have used it to control and reduce violence among inmates. Several pre-postsecondary schools have used it to help teens cope with stress and anger. But the teaching of mindfulness has been clouded due to extensive modifications to the practice. From few years from now, the mindfulness techniques used in North America and Europe may not even be as effective as the original version derived from Buddhism.
In order to cater to those who hate Buddhism, but love the benefits of Eastern philosophies, the mindfulness experts work hard to remove Buddhism so that those bigots can also be benefited from the practice.
Dr. Russ Harris, an Australian expert in mindfulness wrote: “‘Mindfulness’ is an ancient concept, found in a wide range of spiritual and religious traditions, including most martial arts, yoga, tai chi, Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.”4. The very idea of mindfulness and the techniques associated with it have only been found in Buddhism and not in any other religion or philosophy stated by individuals like Dr. Harris. By stating it was also found in other religious, the Dr. Harris is trying to take away the significance of Buddhism in mindfulness mediation. It is a blatant attempt to hijack Buddhism based mindfulness and integrates it into Westernized ideology. This is not an uncommon practice among some European and Western academics. The non-Buddhist academic community has been aggressively trying to “purify” Buddhism out of the mindfulness equation. It is not only scientifically unethical, but also reflects the “typical” European or Western mentality of stealing from others. Most of these mindfulness experts fabricate evidence because their clients are devoted Christians. In order to cater to those who hate Buddhism, but love the benefits of Eastern philosophies, the mindfulness experts work hard to remove Buddhism so that those bigots can also be benefited from the practice.
Misconduct, Plagiarism and Falsification
Ask yourself; if you had written a thesis on special relativity principle and decided not to credit Albert Einstein and others, does that constitute professional or academic misconduct? According policies of several universities, governments and professional organizations in Canada, presenting materials without proper credits considered as a serious breach of conduct5, 6. A student who submit a document with incorrect or no citations could face severe penalty6. A professional could lose their practice license for plagiarism7. These same rules of ethics should be applied to those who promote mindfulness. Unfortunately due to the lack of oversight or regulatory body, anyone can teach meditation in most parts of the world.
Experts misrepresent Buddhism for financial gains.
Buddhist Mediation is Abused Openly
On 23 of December 2014, the Shaw Cable TV Canada broadcast a program highlighting how companies in Canada and US, including Google Inc., use mindfulness as a tool to help develop positive workplace environments. The program lasted for about 30 minutes, but the so called experts in mindfulness never mention the connection between mindfulness and Buddhism. In fact, I got the feeling that they have done everything to cover up that it is a form of Buddhist practice. Alberta is a known Conservative region in Canada and therefore I am not surprised by the cover up. However, if you are determined to exclude all references to Buddhism, you should consider using synthetic drugs instead of mindfulness at the first place. The drugs may be more effective than the watered-down version of mindfulness mediation.
This is not the only thing that capitalism based economies and Euro-centric societies have hijacked from others. While falsification of Eastern ideologies as Western has been done since the European imperialism days, today it is done much more openly. The swastika is a well-known fabrication used by Adolf Hitler8. It is used by Hindus and Buddhists for thousands of years before Hitler hijacked and used as a symbol for Nazi regime. Even today most people live in the West have no idea where it came from; except if they “Googled it”. Another example of such hijacking is the term “Buddha” used by strip clubs and night clubs as a brand name. Even a person with slightest idea of what “Buddha” stands for would not use it for such activities. It does not represent anything to do with clubs let along strip clubs. In Canada, one of the most ironic trends in the 21st century is learning Vipassana Meditation without Buddhism. It is like learning English without the English alphabet. With the speared of Westernization, the abuse of Eastern ideologies has spread to the East itself.
Buddhist mediation programs in the prison systems have been scrapped due to outcry from the fundamentalist Christian community.
The popular media usually do not focus on this issue. However, recently few liberal media sectors have picked up the obvious xenophobic nature of North Americans. In the 2008 documentary, Dhamma Brothers by Andrew Kukura highlighted one of many well-known recent instances where people have either attacked Buddhism or hijacked Buddhist traditions. In the documentary they covered prison inmates who were given instructions for Buddhist mediation. The Buddhist mediation was used as a method to control violence and help clam the prisoner. It was started as a trail and it was highly successful. Therefore, the prison officials decided to extend the meditation program. But the Buddhist mediation programs in the prison systems have been scrapped due to outcry from the fundamentalist Christian community (Watch: Dhamma Brothers; 2008 Documentary for detailed information). So much for “freedom” of everything in America when on group bullies the other. It is ironic that these same fundamentalist Christians also protest when they were met with any opposition to their anti-Buddhist Christian conversions in South Asia. In other words, it is good to spread of the word of the Jesus in the Buddhist world, but you dare not exercise the freedom of speech in Christian USA to teach effective Buddhist mediation.
Buddhists Don’t Care
If you asked Buddhists about misrepresentation of Buddhist practices by others, most of them will not have any objections. This is the nature of Buddhists. Buddhists are generally peaceful and often avoid confrontations from other religious communities. But it should not be used as an excuse by these mindfulness experts to exploit Buddhism for their own agenda. I find it appalling that the “silence” of the global Buddhism community has been used to promote mindfulness without core Buddhist values.
It is a widespread issue
This is not limited to the examples I provided above. This is a widespread issue that cut across all levels of experts. From reputed university professors to yoga instructors and lay practitioners, everyone wants Buddhist mindfulness without Buddhism. In 2015, the “meditation and alternative medicine” industry has grown rapidly. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies specializing mindfulness. Each organization and individual has their own interpretation of the practice. To most, it is just a “fashion” statement rather than an effective psychological treatment. If your neighbor is doing it, you want it to because it is the new trend.
Most of these mindfulness experts misrepresent Buddhism for financial gains. Commercialization of Buddhism must appeal to the non-Buddhist and anti-Buddhists in our society. Otherwise the financial loss could be catastrophic. This is the primary reason why Buddhism is a problem to Buddhist based mindfulness.
I think that falsification and misrepresentation of the origins of mindfulness will eventually lead to ineffective practices. It is disgraceful that these so called mindfulness professionals abuse the system. It is specially concerns me when educated individuals such as research professors also falls victim to such absurd interpretation of Buddhism. But at the end of the day, those who practice mindfulness without proper Buddhist meditation will reap far less than those who integrate Buddhist values. Unfortunately this hijacking of concepts from other cultures and claiming them as theirs is not a new trend in the European-based civilizations across the globe.
1. Miller, J. J., Fletcher, K., & Kabat-Zinn, J. (1995). Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. General hospital psychiatry, 17(3), 192-200.
2. Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., & Burney, R. (1985). The clinical use of mindfulness meditation for the self-regulation of chronic pain. Journal of behavioral medicine, 8(2), 163-190.
3. Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., … & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic medicine, 65(4), 564-570.
4. Harris, R. (2009, October 1). Mindfulness without meditation. Retrieved December 24, 2014, from http://www.actmindfully.com.au/upimages/mindfulness_without_meditation_–_russ_harris_–_hcpj_oct_09.pdf
5. How Not to Plagiarize. (2010, July 14). Retrieved December 24, 2014, from http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/advice/using-sources/how-not-to-plagiarize
6. K.2 Plagiarism/Cheating/Other Academic Misconduct. (2014, January 1). Retrieved December 24, 2014, from http://www.ucalgary.ca/pubs/calendar/current/k-2.html
7. 500.25- Scientific Integrity. (2013, February 13). Retrieved December 24, 2014, from http://www.usgs.gov/usgs-manual/500/500-25.html
8. Merkl, P. H. (1975). Political violence under the Swastika. New Jersey.
This article may have hit a nerve for some readers. That is why I have provided you with a very good references list (above). While the article has some of my own interoperations or options, every single “fact” has been thoroughly researched and backed with third party evidence. If you are offended by the article, then you must be offended at anyone who exercises the freedom of speech. There is a difference between freedom of speech and the abuse of speech. This article does not incite violence or promote hatred (abuse of speech). But simply it highlights the reality of the hypocritical society with proper evidence (freedom of speech).