Mindfulness vs. Physiology

Mindfulness

Much is made these days of the concept of “mindfulness”.  It is the cure-all of the new age. Depressed? Mindfulness of your moods, letting go, will cure you. Poverty, illness, famine, death, disease will all bow to the mindful modern man.

To a large extent it is wishful thinking. Mind-less bollox, if you will pardon my vulgarity.

I was much captured by the concept as part of my endless search for answers some 20 years ago. The original Buddhist texts, the Tao, Zen and the whole gamut of wishful thinking captivated me. I was about to be transported to Nirvana. Except I wasn’t.

There is nothing wrong per se with mindfulness but to imagine it will raise a victorious flag over the flaws and imperfections of a disastrous genetic inheritance is pure nonsense.

Mindfulness does have it place. I try to be aware of my moods and my behavior.  I try to correct and govern my worst excesses.  I know that poverty, cruelty, disease are wrong; I mean well and would like to eradicate them. I know that racial and any other form of prejudice against the rest of the poor sods on planet earth is wrong.

Despite my intense irritation with the busybodies and mealy mouthed fools who push political correctness, they are right in part and I do my very best to embrace brown, yellow, gay, red, blue, whatever it is I am supposed to welcome as “diversity”.

And yet despite heroic efforts I can not alter the very bedrock of my personality. I can not help my intense irritability and frequent bad moods. I can not help my obsessions with the supposed wrong doings of others when all I have to do is ignore them and mind my own business.

I can not rid myself of sometimes overwhelming depression by being mindful of it. Bollox. It just doesn’t work.

I would like to be better, kinder, more enthusiastic, more successful, less curmudgeonly.  I would like to save the world, be a light unto the gentiles, lead the rest of my days wandering the paths of righteousness. But I won’t.

I was born with a certain physiology and there is only so much I can do to moderate it.  I might try magic mushrooms or the latest unction promoted by the press but in the end utopia can only be achieved if we can change our very nature.

Until such time I will not listen to some foolish though well meaning clown who tells me that mindfulness will save the universe. It will not.

11 Comments

  1. I agree with you, changing it’s difficult, but not impossible, but of course, it would be naive to think that just by wishing you can change, without a serious, and intense practice, that may take a lifetime, and still not a warranty that you may succeed on it…

    Mushrooms, ayahuasca, Iboga, and other plants my give you an insight into a different dimension, and you may obtain some benefits, by knowing yourself better, however it’s not a panacea, neither works the same with everybody, neither I believe that a ‘new birth’ it’s possible without great struggle, and suffering, and a daily practice to keep you riding the horse of mindfulness, states come, and go, just like moods, what you seek are stations, and those are not easy to come, without great effort, period. 🙂

    1. I am just re-reading one of the Iain M Banks Culture novels (“Matter”). I don’t know if you are familiar with Banks but he was a Scottish socialist and wrote of a Utopia, the Culture, an infinitely advanced and godlike civilization which had chosen, rather like the Buddha, to stick around and help people in this universe rather than “sublime” or transcend to a non material realm.

      I get a warm warm glow whenever I dip back into the Culture. Banks is my kind of guy and the Culture is my kind of civilization. Deeply socialist, deeply good but with freedom and plenty for all.

      Citizens of the Culture can choose everything about their existence including their behavior and their moods and they become bio-chemically altered in accordance with such choice.

      In my view, after many years of futile practice of various esoteric disciplines, a better future for humanity (or “civilization” ) will only arrive when and if we have such godlike powers.

      In their absence we can only dream. Aim for those powers and that behavior to be sure. But only science can (hopefully and eventually) lead us to such an earthly paradise.

      Call me a cynic but…..

  2. I understand, if you check my blog you can find stuff as diverse as IGNORANCE, THE HUMAN CONDITION. December 2, 2017, or PROJECT UTOPIA, DAVID PEARCE, AND THE HEDONISTIC IMPERATIVE, TRANSHUMANISM. July 8, 2017, or STATIONS VS STATES, THE CASE OF MOTHER TERESA AND HIS CRITICS October 15, 2016 and many others where I examine the topic from different angles, myself a great fan of Science, but not of Science fiction, at the same time, an skeptic of Science capabilities when by far more simple things, we cannot accomplish, as having even a decent government today, or do little on the whole as a conglomerate of nations for stopping the destruction of our environment. now reaching God like powers, well…maybe we are close to that goal, but not for a better future, but for destruction!

    I may be a greater cynic, than you are, so let me just say, do not hold up your breath waiting for the day Science will be the panacea to our many problems!

    Thank you for your response. 🙂

      1. Ideally I agree with him very much, but to be honest, found him very naive, on the difficulties, and challenges to promote legislation, not only in a particular country, but worldwide, no to talk about the experimental period, and the possible failures, before those changes could be adopted.
        Just read some of the opinions, and fears expressed by many people on my post on that particular post.
        Imagine, as today we cannot even reach consensus on the use of practically harmless drugs, imagine the giant fights, and divisions, his proposals would provoke! 🙁

        1. I take comfort in that intelligent people are at least talking in the right way and thinking the right thoughts. The abolition of misery will probably take longer than the “never coming” second coming however. On that I must agree with you!

          1. I kind of laugh, millennialism that cornerstone of Western apocalyptic vision, I should say that unfortunately some people believe the myth with so much faith that politically speaking are trying to shape historical events towards that direction!

            Which it{s not only silly, but dangerous! 🙂

    1. and yes, I share your despair and doubts. We live in a beautiful world spoil by brutal human nature and crude Darwinian evolutionary drive.

  3. The word mindfulness is “manmukh” and can be safely ignored as a spiritual distraction.

    (My teacher used this (Sanscrit? Urdu?) word to describe anything human).

    Anything human is a distraction from the spiritual way. The spiritual way is human destiny.

    So my teacher abjured us to use “manmukh” as a navigational tool of discrimination and discernment, to enable us to keep humaness, “manmukh” at arms length.

    However, our dwindling humanity was not to ignore the need to be mindful of our duties while here as sons, daughters, nephews and nieces, neighbours, friends, colleagues, patriots etc, though not to let any of these potential hindrances distract us from our spiritual way.

    (Personally, I have now used “manmukh” to steer me through the Gideon knot of human experiences with a personal mantra to meet my human duties by being Legal, Decent, and Honest, but that’s all – no further attachments, just legal, decent and honest. Detachment, discrimination is key. This is the truth of spiritual mindfulness, in my experiences of the mystical experiences of Reality).

    I hope this helps.

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