Month: July 2018

“I refuse to change”

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This is an article about psychological resistance to change.

Here are some lovely synonyms for the word at hand; opposition, defiance, struggle, protection, refusal, blocking, combat, contention, friction, holding, impedance, obstruction, rebuff, shield, protecting.

There are of course many more. Which one grabs you?

There is positive and negative resistance, and plenty of somethings in between. But who determines the terms upon which such a psychological force is cast? If it’s you, then you may have a small problem on your hands. That is if you are interested in transformation and change.

I returned to England in July and spent a quality afternoon speaking to the co-host of the imperfect Buddha podcast: my buddy Mr Stuart Baldwin. We had one of our usual conversations, the sort I only really have with him, which are generally humorous, profound, silly, utopian, pragmatic, layered with nonsense and creative wonder, full of disregard for the status quo, curious about prevalent currents, and accompanied by few bad words for Shambhala and complaints about the neo-liberal state of the world. I mentioned that I was thinking about writing a few pieces here at the post-traditional Buddhism blog related to the coaching work I do. Stuart thought this was a good idea so here it is. It’s actually something that I have wanted to do for a while but have always found something far more interesting to do, which is to say, I have resisted it. The time has changed, however, and although I may not produce a whole series of these, I do think this one is important and it can be understood in part as a message to myself and to past and present clients, for resistance is one of the greatest enemies I know of to bringing about meaningful change to one’s life. As coaching is primarily about making change happen, I think you might agree that this topic is rather significant.

To start off, I want to share an anecdote or two. (more…)

18. IBP [INCITE] Glenn Wallis on Darkness, Sloterdjik, & more

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In this episode of the imperfect Buddha podcast I speak with Glenn Wallis once more. We cover a range of topics but at the core of our discussion is darkness: a topic that many folks shy away from and yet in our problematic times is a theme that needs looking at more closely and more deeply. Glenn will be leading a workshop on the topic of darkness on August 4th in Philadelphia. If you’re interested in participating, take a look at the webpage dedicated to the event at the Incite seminars website: https://inciteseminars.com/darkness/
We talk about the motivations behind Incite seminars and why they are an important response to the challenges of our times, as well as the need for creativity in approaching practice, whether Buddhist or philosophical, and theory. We also touch on the work of Peter Sloterdjik and in particular his book ‘You must change your life’ which I for one found challenging. We also talk about the Speculative non-Buddhism website and what’s happening there. We also touch on the topic of our upcoming episode on neoliberalism and Buddhism with Ron Purser.
As always Glenn is a great conversationalist and someone who is thinking at the edge of what passes for normal in terms of Buddhism, spirituality, inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the complex, multifaceted world we live in. So, brush off your critical thinking skills, wake up your creative desire to think deeply and widely and take a listen.

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Buddhism, Mindfulness, & Neo-liberalism

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This piece of writing is intended as an introduction to an upcoming interview with Ronald Purser for the Imperfect Buddha Podcast. It looks at some of the themes that we will be discussing, such as Mindfulness and neoliberalism.

Mindfulness is big business with a value reaching more than $1 billion in the USA alone! There are well over thirteen hundred apps that will teach you it along with books on Mindful everything: from Mindful parenting to Mindful Leadership, from Mindful sex to the recently released Mindful Shoplifting and Mindful Adultery. Ok, I invented the last two but you get the picture. There are Mindfulness t-shirts, CDs, DVDs, coffee cups…all guaranteed to make you more mindful, apparently. It’s a veritable Mindful fest and needless to say, a wonderful money making opportunity for many a Buddhist teacher and poorly qualified healthcare professional. If a few cents could be squeezed out of Mindful Sneezing, no doubt some budding entrepreneur would be ready to market it. There’s no denying Mindfulness is a genuine Capitalist success story in the 21st century and in a world in which efficiency and productivity are key to survival, Mindfulness has been increasingly sold as a low cost solution for fixing a whole host of problems from stress to penile dysfunction, with, of course, the ubiquitous dab of ancient wisdom added on the side.

There are those who have begun to notice the co-option of Buddhist practice for the benefit of a dysfunctional status quo in the form of the dominant ideology of our time: neoliberalism. This is an ideology which, if you don’t know already, is one in which all of you dear folks are partially or wholly embedded. McMindfulness is one term used to describe the commercialization of Mindfulness into a fast food practice designed to fill the neoliberal hole. By pacifying angst, feelings of hopelessness and frustration, depression and anger, or making monotony and boredom more tolerable, folks get equipped with the ability to carry on as if everything was just fine, and to passively accept conditions of exploitation, mind-numbing routine, and the dehumanization of the work place and erosions of democracy. Some critique has gone further to highlight the usage of mindfulness to ensure greater conformity to the neoliberal view of the individual in society. One that is wholly self-reliant, responsible for all her emotional turmoil and mental angst, and made to believe that she is un-needing of any form of collective action or resistance to the madness of unbridled neoliberal capitalism, its by-product in the form of environmental destruction, and the corporatisation of all aspects of human life. The message, which no doubt you will all be familiar with, is look within and never without. The Neoliberal fantasy of absolute autonomy and self-reliance means that all of our problems are always of our own making and the solution to fixing them, well isn’t it obvious, is to look to and within yourself.

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