Thursday, August 4, 2011

MINDFULNESS, FUNDAMENTALISM AND A TALE OF TWO CITIES

Here’s an uplifting story from MinnPost about famed Zen priest and drummer Marc Anderson (pictured opposite) who teaches mindfulness, and presents workshops on meditation, to aid and improve communication, compassion, teamwork and mindfulness among corporate executives, management teams, NPOs, health professionals and others. He's been doing those things for at least 30 years.

Anderson, who is also an adjunct professor in the Anthropology department at Hamline University in St Paul, Minnesota, now wants to teach meditation in public schools across the ‘Twin Cities’ of Minneapolis and St Paul. (That reminds me of a story Groucho Marx once told an audience whilst on a bond tour during World War II. Groucho said, 'I knew a girl in Minneapolis. She was also known in St Paul. She used to come over to visit me. She was known as "The Tail of Two Cities".' Forgive me, I digress.)

Yes, teaching mindfulness in public and private schools is a great idea, and I am pleased that more and more of that is taking place in Australian schools. My only fear – and it is a real one – is that Christian fundamentalists in the so-called ‘Land of the Free and Home of the Brave’ will exclaim, if they haven't done so already, ‘You are teaching Buddhism and atheism in our schools – that is religion. You can’t do that!’ They’ve done it before with evolution and just about everything else that is progressive and sensible.

To them, I say, ‘Get a life ... and get real. We are not talking about religion here, but people being awake and attentive, and becoming better communicators, listeners and negotiators ... among other things.’

In any event, a strong case can be made that Buddhism, especially in its more traditional forms, is not a 'religion'. Come to think of it, neither is Christian fundamentalism, which, unlike Buddhism, is an ideology. No, I shouldn't say that, not because it isn't true, but because the Christian fundamentalists will then retort, 'Well, if it is an ideology, and not a religion, we should be able to teach it in public schools.' As the already-quoted Groucho Marx once quipped, ‘Believe me, you have to get up early if you want to get out of bed.’

Life is a battle at the best of times, and we are all living in a new Dark Age of crass materialiam on the one hand and silly but dangerous fundamentalism on the other. That's why we all need to live ... mindfully. Bless you all ... even the fundies.



NOTE.
This blog sets out a simple form of mindfulness sitting meditation.



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1 comment:

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