I have been reading a huge textbook on mindfulness. It is truly a gargantuan book for mindfulness: a thick textbook with everything, from history, through philosophy (East and west), neurobiology…everything about it. Very cool.
One of the things that strikes me, though, about this very academic, clinical and scientific, conventional approach to Being, is the great assumption that is invested in the kind of knowing presented in this book. In short, despite all the uses it finds for mindfulness, for which it recruits Buddhism as well as Husserl and phenomenology, and others, it becomes very noticeable what this book represents by the kind of knowledge it promotes.
Let’s see if I can explain.
The analogy that comes to mind for me is between what is posed in various ways.
There is a, what Husserl calls a Natural manner of experience and Being, and then there is what he famously calls phenomenal reduction aspect. Mindfulness is proposed as a kind of western phenomenalism reflecting or mapped into eastern knowledge.
The issue that comes to mind for me is around or next to what I understand is the core of mindfulness practices. Mindfulness practice promotes awareness without judgement.
I feel this is the best definition to be had. Any other, I feel, loads conceptual artifacts upon the effort.
For example, the extremely loaded ideal that mindfulness is an achievable state of Being. To my mind, any achievable state of Being begs a basic question about Being itself. But that question is larger than this post.
Now my question:
If mindfulness practices are about developing or cultivating awareness without judgement, then what is the notion that there is or we should want mindfulness practices saying about awareness without judgement?
It seems to me that by virtue of its formulation and actualization, it is inherently judgemental. For, by its existence, a judgment is implied about the situation.
So then; what is that really saying about any state of being?
Despite any argument, before we could say anything, just in contemplating and considering what I have laid out so far in this post, we would have to say that the situation itself is a problem.
The reason that this is significant for me is due to my fundamental axiom, a sort of basic or grounding substance from which all things arise￼.￼ This is: there is nothing wrong.
There is no problem. The basic philosophical assumption that goes into any philosophical work of substance must stem from the ground of, basically, nothing. ￼￼And, if we are going to translate this into a practical situation, this nothingness must equate to a situation where there is no problem.
( Slavoj Zizek calls this a catastrophe ! )
This is particularly interesting in the context of mindfulness in so much as — at least the author of this textbook, but I have heard many other authors and speakers talk about mindfulness — an ideal state of being that a person can achieve called mindfulness is posited…
…The very idea of that state of being (mindful) is that problem is already handled at all times.
Now, what does this really mean?
Does it mean that we’re happy and content all the time?
While I do love mindfulness as I understand it, which is to say, as the practice of cultivating an awareness without judgment, ￼￼￼￼￼ I think it is a ridiculous proposition that a human being could achieve a “state of mindfulness being”. It’s like setting one up for failure in the act of trying to help them.
Like I said in the beginning of this post, to me it is an idealism. And what it’s really indicating, what it is really trying to get someone to, is really the fundamental and basic working ontological knowledge that there is no problem.
Because human beings are indeed human beings that are constantly faced with problems, we have to find the moment of this mindful proposition within the context that it is indeed arising in this moment￼:￼￼￼￼
Modernity is problem.
Mindfulness is awareness without judgment. ￼
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