Gentrifying the dharma: How the 1 percent is hijacking mindfulness

wildmind meditation newsJoshua Eaton, As big corporations embrace meditation, some Buddhists fear their religion’s being co-opted by elites.

The protesters looked anxious as they rode down the escalator in San Francisco’s Marriott Marquis. A yoga bag slung over one of their shoulders hid a banner reading “Eviction Free San Francisco.” Another had a bullhorn tucked into her backpack. Two reached out to touch an inflatable, neon-blue lotus as they walked toward the conference hall.

They were there to disrupt “Three Steps to Build Corporate Mindfulness the Google Way,” a panel on Google’s corporate mindfulness program at the 2014 Wisdom 2.0 conference. As the panelists began their …

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I’m less anti-capitalist than a lot of Buddhists I know, and I feel that Buddhist teaching on suffering often degenerates into being negative and miserable about everything. There is some truth I’m afraid in the stereotype of Buddhism as gloomy and obsessed with the dark side of life. I do see this in some opposition to society and capitalism – overall samsara is a far more pleasant and less painful place to be because of the progress we have made in the modern world.

Science, technology, democracy and a global economic system don’t lead to nirvana, but they’ve led to a samsara closer to the god realm than the hungry ghost or hell realm (which is what life has been like for many people throughout history). So we don’t want to be too anti-everything, but we do want to be more aware of suffering and mindful of the problems in the world. One of these, I believe, is that our economic systems need to become more compassionate. A free market system with profit as the only goal is out-of-date. There needs to be a system with more focus on stopping suffering and promoting general welfare. Our Buddhist practice should help us towards that.


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