Mindfulness Mythology

In my undergrad I became aware that there are two kinds of mythology.

Extrinsic mythology is what we usually understand is mythology. Like, the Samarian mythology; the Greek mythology; etcetera.

Then there is intrinsic mythology. This is mythology that still functions.

This was one of the first lectures the History of Consciousness class “Mythology and Religion”.

The idea that came across to me after many years of contemplation, is that (1)Intrinsic mythology is not a belief system. and (2) it is not False.

I think the number two of my realizations is the more difficult understanding.

This is because, probably first, we are so taught to believe that mythology is about something that people believe in, which is to say, some thing as opposed to what we know now. However, the meaning to be gained in the fact that there is at the University of California at Santa Cruz, a department called “the history of consciousness” Is that consciousness is true in as much as it is constituted by a number of present forces which arise to knowledge as history, philosophy, and anthropology. Indeed, we could put “religion” in this category, except that religion and mythology are topics against which history philosophy and anthropology find their voice, and actually, vice versa.

The main idea that I’m bringing up in this post, though, is that intrinsic mythology is not False. Rather, it is at once the object against which reality may arise, but also that very truth which constitutes the object of its field. It is not merely subjective meaning. And it is not merely objective fact. Rather, if we might just be able to speak about it in its actuality, it is universal truth in its facticity.

—-

The Mythology that has risen around Mindfullness is not incorrect, regardless of what may be irritating me about it. It is not incorrect inasmuch as indeed this is how people are appropriating it mythologically. This appropriations is often promoted by wealthy executives and spiritual gurus alike:

I watched a mental health movie which is about 45 minutes long, it is called “what is mindfulness”. And leading the instruction is this kind of typical, or what I view as typical, silicon valley, nicely and freshly dressed, bright eyed, obviously erudite, educated and intelligent man. I wonder if he is the person who put together the video, but I don’t know. And he may not even be a silicon type. Lol

Basically he brings together neurological science With “ancient spiritual Buddhist practices” and generally makes the argument that mindfulness is good because of all these cognitive benefits that come out of it, which indeed is probably true. But not only this, he conveys a very distinct and palatable ideal along with It’s benefits: that it is a state of being that one can achieve. One is able through practice to achieve a mindful state, and in this mindful state a person is more productive, thinks clearly, is more emotionally centered, etc., everything that a healthy human should be.

Really?

Now, I think it’s great that this guy was once a messed up schmo working in the tech industry (or wherever) as an entrepreneur who then discovered mindfulness practices and it changed his life so now he is a super productive and happy very wealthy dude maybe. That’s great!

 however, what he is conveying is an intrinsic mythology that is actually extrinsic. Or, Maybe more exactly, religious evangelism.

And what I mean by this, the context that I am bringing forth here, is that, at least in my understanding of what mindfulness is, is that there is no such thing as “mindfulness”. At least from the Buddhist standpoint (that inspired these practices) and at least from the therapist, I’m not bringing to mind his name at this moment, who decided to use it as a form of therapeutic counseling, there is only ‘mindfulness practices’.

“Mindfulness” is an evolution, a development of a particular objectified version of what the practices should bring about. Basically, it was people being lazy about using the whole term, mindfulness practices, and they began to call it “mindfulness”.

The issue that I have with how this guy is presenting what mindfulness practices are and or what they are for, is if the point of doing them is to reach the state of mindfulness, is that the way he’s acting is no different than the way that a heroin addict, at least at the beginning of their addiction, behaves towards others.

I mean this in a very real sense of what is occurring. That we should not, that it is not intellectually proper, to segregate behaviors simply because we like one and not the other, to say that they are involved in different activities.

By the way, if you read the history of heroin, the reason why heroin was named “heroin” was because it made the people who did it feel like heroes.

And, even though the use of herion is so misunderstood as to be lumped into a category of disease and disorder, such that people never really want to talk about or encounter what actually occurs as the process that ends in the well known disorder of addiction, At the beginning of using heroin, or at least how are used to be, I don’t know what it is now, by virtue of the fact that people tend to live their lives by what they are told about what life is supposed to appear like– The person who does heroin suddenly feels really fucking good. And life is great. And, despite the social stigma now, she wants everyone to feel this good. Actually, may be a more recent phenomenon of drugs could be MDMA, or what we know of in the drug world as “ecstasy”. Ecstasy makes you feel so euphoric and good that literally you’re telling everyone around you that they really need to do this because it’s really really good.

This is what I see this guy doing in the video over mindfulness. First of all he promotes mindfulness as a state of being   One can achieve through practice. And despite what the fashion of mental health would want to convey, that is patently incorrect.

Mental health and indeed Mindfulness practices have no absolute object; the goal is manifest. Their object is to bring a sense of actuality and intentionality into one’s living and being; hence it can be helpful to practice mindfulness if you are struggling. This does not mean that the purpose of mindfulness practice is to create a state of being whereby one now is able to achieve all their desires and live and have wonderful relationships. It can, yes. And maybe it does help with that, but due to the fact that mindfulness practices are to help an individual become more actualized to what they are as a human being, to direct “mindfulness” to some “mentally healthy human being” is just idealism, religion in another form, or, and attempt to promote an intrinsic mythology.

Like I said, this isn’t bad or wrong. So far as indeed it can help people. But it is very possible for me to be entirely antisocial, completely unproductive, contributing to society in the most minimal way, and be perfectly mentally healthy.

I wonder if this dude in the vid is actually mentally healthy, Becuase he seems to be deluded by an ideal. I don’t know.

So, what I’m really saying is, i suppose, it really bothers me when people promote something that is so good for people under the guise, however subtly insinuated and perhaps not intentionally directed, that something is wrong with them.

There is no absolute state of mindfulness, just the same as there is no absolute state of consciousness.

I’ll go back to the very Buddhist parable of enlightenment:

When one becomes enlightened, they realize there’s no such thing as enlightenment.

So it is with some mythological state of mindfulness: it is a fantasy. Only as a vanishing mediator is a state of mindfulness possible. Once it has arrived, one realizes that nothing is different.

so we should be cautious, and very skeptical, of people that are promoting a snake oil remedy for being conscious. As though the state of mindfulness is something that a person can achieve. Yes, people can achieve a state a mindfulness just as they can achieve the state of knowing something, or the state of being hungry, or full. Or the state of ecstasy. Or serenity. It comes and goes. It is not a state of Being: it is Being.

What we seeing this person that is promoting such a state of mindfulness, is someone who is high. And again, not to distinguish between good highs and bad highs. we need be allowed to look behind the curtain.

For sure though, we must be accepting and tolerant however vigilant of those who want to be Christians and prophets.

For, Christ is not a Christian. And Buddha is not a Buddhist. 

x

Author: landzek

My name is Lance Kair, a philosopher, a counselor and a musician who is being questioned.

6 thoughts on “Mindfulness Mythology”

  1. I commented on Mindfulness on my own blog, but I’ll comment on the heroin mention here. In the Western world, perhaps more so in the United States, there is a Calvinistic undercurrent—the same Weber mentioned in his piece on the work ethic of Protestantism.

    Heroin and addiction are not necessarily good or bad unless you adopt a certain metanarrative and worldview. These are analogous to the notion of mythology. If you adopt the vantage that a person should be productive or die, then the dysfunctional addict doesn’t measure up. The logic goes something along the lines of ‘I have to toil for a living, so there’s no way some other person is going to get a free pass’. These people have internalised the parable of the ants and the lazy-ass grasshoppers.

    This is where reviled post-moderns step in and point out that there is nothing privileged in this Calvinistic narrative and one that isn’t centred on dehumanising production and Capitalism. These same people look to nature and point out how that person would have been dead in the wild. They fully subscribe to Hobbes’ notion of a ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’ life without society—OK, it was Monarchism he was defending, but let’s ignore that because… just because. There is no particular reason to accept this worldview.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah. Well, and I’m also associating the same kind of reaction that people have to the experience of doing heroin, as they might have, in this case, with the effect that mindfulness practices have had on this particular person.

      The effect is the same calling everybody needs to experience this!

      But then also I tend to be a little less authoritarian in my relativity. 😜

      I have a little, or a lot, of Direct experience in the area of addiction: For sure, if I would have been allowed, if I would’ve had enough money, for sure I would have loved, and actually I still would love to be able to, use and drink until I died. But it simply wasn’t the case. I was not dying quick enough, and I didn’t have enough money. So I moved on. Lol. Now, I would say that I was entirely healthy mentally the whole time. But, in the moving on, in the finding of futility, mental health changed, and became something else, all the while supporting the health that it is me being in the world. Now, That is extremely philosophical, and the reality of the matter is I can never expect someone to have such a deep and fulfilling understanding of their life course…

      …for sure, for much of that time I was very functional, and no one had any sort of judgment on it whatsoever simply because they knew me as a person. So ethical and ideology condemnation asside, what this person is paddling, I am flying, about metal, it’s pretty much hogwash, but as well, quite substantial and meaningful to a certain set of individuals. It is both. Most people who are attics do not have the luxury of having and ability to have perspective in an educated sense, and a philosophical or intellectual sense as I did. But this is not to say that I did nnot endure greatsuffering…

      What offends me though, is those people who might really benefit from the practice of mindfulness, might otherwise sacrifice that benefit in reflection of their efforts never achieving that state of mindfulness so advocated by that “charlatan”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There is so much complete and utter bullshit out there and most of it boils down to some fukka trying to sell you something. Mindfullness books, mindfullness courses, mindfulness bollux in general.

    Liked by 1 person

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