"The mindfulness movement is in danger of being turned into a commodity, “a product to be bought and sold on the free market”, a Buddhist Society conference was told.
“People are becoming professionally mindful,” Steven Stanley, a social psychologist at Cardiff University, told an audience of Buddhists and secular mindfulness practitioners on Wednesday.
It was possible to make a living from mindfulness, with growing opportunities for research, teaching and speaking, he said, adding that it is becoming an “increasingly professionalised domain” with a tendency towards standardised instruction.
The conference, Mindfulness: Secular, Religious, Both or Neither?, heard that more than 500 scientific papers on mindfulness were being published every year, and that more than two dozen UK universities now offer mindfulness courses. Global corporations such as Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and American Express have introduced mindfulness training for their staff.
However, amid the extraordinary growth of the secular mindfulness movement, there was rising concern about lack of regulation of the training of meditation teachers, the conference heard..."
"...An all-party group of MPs last week urged the government to fund the training of 1,200 new mindfulness teachers over the next five years to meet sharply rising demand for the technique in both the public and private sectors. This number of teachers would cover 15% of the 580,000 adults at risk of recurrent depression every year, said their report, Mindful Nation UK. Advertisement
“The training of teachers is critical,” it added. “There is considerable and justifiable concern about the quality of teachers and how to ensure integrity.”
An estimated 2,200 mindfulness teachers have been trained to minimum standards over the past 10 years, but only about 700 were both active and had professional clinical training that qualified them to teach mindfulness-based cognitive therapy to people with depression, said the report..."
'During a recent televised interview with Grand Ayatollah Ahmad al-Baghdadi, the leading Shia cleric of Iraq made clear why Islam and the rest of the world can never peacefully coexist.'
"...As for the polytheists [Hindus, Buddhists, etc.] we allow them to choose between Islam and war! This is not the opinion of Ahmad al-Husseini al-Baghdadi, but the opinion of all five schools of jurisprudence [four Sunni and one Shia]."
In this modern era of instant global communications, it's easy to forget just how difficult the transmission of ideas was in earlier times. Indeed, the present global free marketplace of ideas has only become universal since the widespread adoption of the internet, so nowadays totalitarian regimes and repressive ideologies can no longer keep people in the dark.
Alison Gopnik gives a fascinating account of her investigations of how Tibetan Buddhist ideas about 'the self' reached and influenced the eighteenth century Scottish philosopher David Hume, despite the obstacles of geography, and censorship by the Vatican's thought-police.
"The history of Buddhism and of psychedelics in American culture follow a surprisingly similar trajectory from the 1950s through the present-day.
But perhaps this shouldn't come as a surprise, given that they share a common aim: the liberation of the mind.
Many of the thinkers who turned to Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies in the 1960s -- including Alan Watts, Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley, Allen Ginsberg and Ram Dass -- were influenced in some way by their experiences with LSD and other psychedelic drugs.
American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield said that LSD, "prepares the mind for Buddhism," while Allan Watts described both practices as being part of a comprehensive philosophical quest.
Now, more than 60 years later, we're seeing a resurgence of popular interest in Buddhism -- with mindfulness meditation now firmly entrenched in the cultural mainstream -- and also in psychedelics, which are being investigated as therapeutic agents for mental health issues including depression, anxiety and addiction.
The intersection of these practices raises a number of questions: Are psychedelics an obstruction to a Dharma practice, or a helpful accompaniment? Are mind-altering substances a legitimate means of personal transformation..." Read it all here