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Dhamma Wheel • View topic - McMindfulness meditation dangers

McMindfulness meditation dangers

An open and inclusive investigation into Buddhism and spiritual cultivation

Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:45 am

Hi Dan,
Dan74 wrote:Thank you, Ben (and Mike) for the quote.

It raises several questions for me.

1. Are we talking about ascetics of the first degree of saintliness when we say that people can make progress in the Dhamma with mindfulness training? That's setting the bar pretty high...
No, I don't believe so. I think with mindfulness training, as has been demonstrated by Dr McGonikal's interview, there are genuine insights that occur for beginners. But I think then one needs an injection of Dhamma by way of a competent teacher, shortly afterwards. It will be a contentious point whether one will require a teacher or sutta study but my opinion is that one can go a very long way with an excellent (Dhamma) teacher without the need to read suttas.

2. If we are talking about ascetics with at least the first degree of saintliness and the Noble Eightfold Path is needed, then Bahiya received it in very abridged form. Perhaps it is not needed literally but needs to be developed and implemented which can happen from some equivalent instruction, from past cultivation and present insight, etc?
Bahiya was an adept of all the jhanas. He was primed from past practice and meritorious accumulation and ready so when he received the very brief instruction from the Buddha it was all that he required by way of instruction and he became an ariya shortly afterwards.

3. It doesn't say that self-awakened ones cannot happen until the Buddha's teaching has died out, nor that people cannot arrive at the Noble Eightfold Path on their own and attain some level of cultivation.
No, that would be another reference for that. My apologies Dan. I had assumed you wanted to explore the notion of an ariya occuring outside of the Buddhadhamma. And I actually came back to the thread to share you something from the Theragatha:
(Nagita 1.86)

Outside of this path,
the path of the many
who teach other things
doesn't go to Unbinding
as does this:
Thus the Blessed One
instructs the Community,
truly showing the palms of his hands.[1]
Note

1.
This is a reference to the fact that the Buddha was an "open-handed" teacher who held nothing back. See DN 16. The suttas addressed to Nagita are among the most plain-spoken passages in the Canon. See AN 5.30, AN 6.42, and AN 8.86.
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Dan74 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:56 am

Thank you, Ben.

I don't see a disagreement.

We can go a long way with a sincere and determined effort in the right direction. That's why even practitioners of Pure Land, who cop a fair bit of flak around here, can attain high levels of cultivation. With their chanting practice and devotion, they cultivate jhanas, maintain concentration and let go of the defilements.

My point has simply been that even with a little bit of Dhamma skilfully administered, one can go a long way as long as there is a sincere and determined effort.
_/|\_
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:03 am

Yes I think so too, Dan!
with Metta

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Shonin » Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:42 pm

tiltbillings wrote:
Dan74 wrote:I have deep misgivings about mcmindfulness taught by those with little wisdom and appreciation of the Dhamma. But small doses of the Dhamma administered skilfully can have profoundly beneficial effects, I feel.
Invite Shonin back here to participate in this thread, given that he is quite knowledgeable about therapeutic mindfulness practice. I would very much welcome his input.


Hi,

Let me just say first that since the birth of our son I've been pretty engaged with that and with other things and I've not really been practicing with any sort of regularity, in a secular context or otherwise, but I'll throw in my contribution if you're interested. (Things are going swimmingly well btw). Also, I'm actually on holiday at the moment so I've only ready part of this thread and I'll keep things brief.

I would say that my experience matches Kelly McGonigal's pretty closely.

It is possible to just watch the breath as a stress-reduction technique. However, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and MBSR are not just that, they are Vipassana techniques with different terminology and a different theoretical framework. People do have profound experiences. For example, on the last stress reduction course I did at work (pretty low-commitment), one of my colleagues told me that her realisation that 'she was not her thoughts' was 'a life-changing experience'. Someone else on my own course told me he had encountered 'the ground of his being'. The people who come to secular mindfulness are a slightly different demographic from those who might practice Buddhism. And typically they don't have beliefs in rebirth, for example, and thus their motivations are not related to that. However, I've never had the sense that their motivations for doing so or that the techniques they are doing are more 'shallow'. They are practising Vipassana, insight meditation.

And people do need guidance, both in order to have such breakthroughs and processing them afterwards as well as a more general support network. That's what teachers and 'sanghas' (secular and religious alike) are for. I think it's hard to teach yourself. I think that having the benefit of Jon Kabat Zinn's (for example) insight on audio recordings and books helps, but having a good real life teacher is generally the best, at least at the start. (But that is not to say that it is harmful or pointless). My secular mindfulness teachers were very experienced therapists and mindfulness practitioners, both highly skilled at the reflecting back on what people offered and at drawing out insights. And at guiding people in their sitting to understand the difference between 'doing' and 'being' and so on. They were more effective at doing so than many Buddhist teachers I've practised with. It varies greatly from one individual to the next, but some people are very good at chasing their own tails and it's really challenging (even for an experienced teacher) to break that. It also helps to have a support network ('sangha') for ongoing commitment and practice.

It's the first time I've come across the term 'McMindfulness' but it's existence doesn't surprise me. However, I think it speaks far more about the contempt that some religious practitioners have for the secularity of such practise (of which they may have little or no experience) than it does about the value or depth of secular mindfulness. It's a little saddening sometimes, but knowing human nature, not that surprising perhaps.

Hope that was helpful.
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 6:33 pm

Hi Shonin,

Thank you very much for your input. It's good to have some input from someone who has actual experience in this area. The points you make about the quality of teaching of some of the secular teachers is very interesting.

Best Wishes
:anjali:
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 24, 2011 7:59 pm

Thank you Shonin!
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby cooran » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:36 pm

thanks Shonin. Nice to read your contribution again.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:44 pm

Shonin wrote:My secular mindfulness teachers were very experienced therapists and mindfulness practitioners, both highly skilled at the reflecting back on what people offered and at drawing out insights. And at guiding people in their sitting to understand the difference between 'doing' and 'being' and so on. They were more effective at doing so than many Buddhist teachers I've practised with.


I wonder what the implications of this phrase are for the continuance of Buddhist monasticism...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Ben » Mon Oct 24, 2011 9:07 pm

daverupa wrote:
Shonin wrote:My secular mindfulness teachers were very experienced therapists and mindfulness practitioners, both highly skilled at the reflecting back on what people offered and at drawing out insights. And at guiding people in their sitting to understand the difference between 'doing' and 'being' and so on. They were more effective at doing so than many Buddhist teachers I've practised with.


I wonder what the implications of this phrase are for the continuance of Buddhist monasticism...


Probably none, Dave.
kind regards,

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby daverupa » Mon Oct 24, 2011 10:04 pm

Ben wrote:Probably none, Dave.


If Right View can arise from a purely secular practice (which I don't think is happening, but since others here think it is, for the sake of argument...), and secular instructors are able to foment healthy therapeutic benefit from it, I see the Sangha having a fairly tough sell in such a meditation environment in the States, given the historical tendency for Americans to reject religious authority in favor of individual spirituality. This, plus the growing atheist population, burgeoning neuroscience... well anyway, it'll be interesting to see how the indigenous Sangha negotiates these developments.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Dan74 » Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:32 pm

Yes, I also see the relevance of monastic Sangha largely confined to those of us who are strongly drawn to renunciate Dhamma. But also among monastics are found strongly committed full-time Buddhist practitioners unencumbered (or less encumbered) by concerns of lay life and as such they are deeply steeped in the Teachings and Practice and perhaps best qualified to offer guidance.

On the other hand, lay teachers may have a better appreciation of the challenges faced by lay practitioners and integrate the teachings in a more efficient and constructive way.

Regardless, I see various Buddhist-related programs when skillfully taught and implemented as being of great use to cultivation and towards a better world where the Dhamma is more likely to flourish.
_/|\_
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Ben » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:01 am

Hi Dave,
For some it may prove to be an "in", a bridge to the Dhamma. For others - not.
The arenas where I see secular mindfulness being practiced has been an allied health and education. The improved wellbeing and/or ability to concentrate during studies may just be the positive experience for many who would not encounter or be open to the teachings to develop some curiosity and desire to learn more. I don't see the ordained sangha being made redundant any time soon.
kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR
Buddhist Life Stories of Australia
e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Platypus » Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:25 am

I do see your point in the op (too sleepy to read all the thread apologies) but I do see the work of kabat zim and others as very useful. mindfulness based therapies for pain management, especially the ever so tricky neurological pain and for depression and I feel that in centres for pain management it is a valuable tool. I wrote an essay on the subject at uni, its so nice to write an essay on something I personally enjoy, and it showed there is a growing body of evidence for this. And many healthcare professionals will be able to help with the issues raised.
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Re: McMindfulness meditation dangers

Postby Anagarika » Sun Dec 01, 2013 6:40 pm

http://www.mcmindfulness.com New blog, for comments and critiques.
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