In early 2014, TIME magazine released a cover story titled “the mindful revolution”. It detailed the increasingly popular ancient Buddhist practice of mindfulness meditation, which is taking the corporate world by storm with giants like Apple and Google jumping on the bandwagon prompting many others to jump on too. The proponents of mindfulness claim it is the magic pill for ailments like depression, stress and even physical diseases like heart disease and weight gain.
Over 10 million Americans practice mindfulness and this is growing at a rampant pace as our many ambitious men and women seek a way to increase their productivity while eliminating their stress. Marketers of the practice treat it like the Holy Grail and market it as a way to increase productivity and find more success in life while still staying happy. Mindfulness is not some sort of magical cure for all of life’s problems and the notion that it will make a lasting change in people’s lives is a total load of bullshit.
Mindfulness is marketed as a way to increase wellbeing which will increase productivity leading to more success and this appeals to modern man who finds himself in the most ambitious age of all time. The world is currently undergoing the biggest change it has ever been in and along with that come a new generation hungry for a piece of the pie. This is a faster world where people have to be constantly on their toes in order to achieve their ambitions. Along with this increased speed comes a whole lot of stress and anxiety over whether the goal will be reached in the required time before it’s too late. Among all this madness there is a pressing need to slow down and recenter oneself before jumping back into the fray rejuvenated and ready for action. This is where mindfulness comes in. In its simple form, It gives a person a daily 20 minute recentering before and after his daily toil so he can tackle the challenges of the day at his best and happiest self. It is supposed to give him lasting change in his life. This is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard.
In the growth of anything there are three possible levels. Reform, which is a change upon the surface, Revolution, which is a change in the mind and Rebellion, which is when someone goes beyond the confines of the mind and ego. Mindfulness as it is taught right now is nothing more than a surface level reform and the reason why is simple. The cause of all the rampant stress is not anything that can be fixed by renewed ambition purpose along with 20 minutes of sit down time. In fact it is the very reason that people seek these out in the first place. It is the absolutely absurd levels of ambition present in society today.
In any kind of growth, dissatisfaction is required and there are 2 levels of dissatisfaction. The first kind is ambition which is an intellectual dissatisfaction and the second kind of dissatisfaction is a dissatisfaction of intuition, it is a calling from ones own being.
The first kind of dissatisfaction or in other words ambition is a disease of the mind. I call ambition the most glorified disease and it is true. Every single person on the planet is being conditioned into an ambitious slave for society rather than doing what his heart desires. Society is creating the conditions for a world where everyone is driven by insane ambition rather than the far better second level of dissatisfaction. Ambition is a feverish growth. One can never be truly at peace under the influence of ambition. There is always some anxiety about whether the objective will be achieved. Like a fever a person will unnaturally go up and down in his pursuit of the goal.
In the second level of dissatisfaction, there is no fever, you just grow at nature’s pace. Nature never goes too fast or too slow, always at the right pace. The thing to understand is that man is a seed of potential and when you try to force that seed too fast or into something it’s not through ambition, you damage it and force it to grow in unnatural ways. If you force a rose to grow like a jasmine, it will suffocate. They have completely different flowers and paces of growth. This is the cause of all the mental illness present in our society.
Ambition puts things in the future and the future always has a fever associated with it. Our entire society has become obsessed with the future, of what should be rather than what is right here in the present and this has created so many sick people. Flowers are never depressed, they just live in the present and grow towards their ultimate flowering. Why can’t we as humans do the same and stop being achievers and start being flowers. People have to be taught that they are incomparable and that the point is not whether you have some position in life or some possession, it is that you have come to flowering. If you are a rose and you find yourself living the life of a jasmine, you have utterly missed. Let roses be roses and jasmines be jasmines, they flower in different ways and no pressure should be imposed to force anything unnatural.
All throughout history, being intensely ambitious was considered a cause for criticism. Now being ambitious is the norm and you are actually criticized if you are not ambitious. Ours is a degrading society.
The problem is we are currently living in the most ambitious age ever. The world is growing at a breakneck pace and everyone is looking out for his piece of the pie. Everyone is ambitious, they are not satisfied with themselves as they are. It is a revolution, people are completely changing the way they think about the world but at the same time there hasn’t been a rebellion where people’s intuitions are revealed. All that is happening right now is a revolution of the mind and there is no rebellion of the soul.
Technology is improving but people aren’t. In fact they seem to be getting worse. With about 20% of our population depressed and this figure exploding, it seems we are headed to a very depressed but successful and ambitious world. People are growing like a fever rather than naturally and they need to slow down or risk pushing themselves into an early grave. People tout mindfulness as the solution to this problem but the problem is it is still motivated by ambition and they remain the same. They don’t grow in their intuition, they just get an excuse to sit around for a few minutes and blow some money.
Asking how to slow down in a world like ours is like asking how to slow down in an Olympic race. You have already lost the moment you ask the question and no one likes to lose. All you gain is 20 minutes which would have better served your ambition if they were spent working. Every single mindfulness instructor markets mindfulness as a way to improve productivity. Ambition is still there and there is no actual change beyond the surface level. What’s worse is that they are gearing it towards the ambitious population and this is really a sacrilege because the worlds of meditation and ambition are polar opposites. In meditation you attempt to remove your bullshit and in ambition you remain full of bullshit.
When Tagore’s Gitanjali was published in Bengali, it’s original language, no one even offered to bat an eye at it. However, when it was translated into English, suddenly it got Nobel prizes and everyone wanted a copy. It doesn’t take a fool to realize that the original had a beauty far above the relatively shoddy English version but everyone cared about the English version because most of the world was under the control of the English. The Bengali original is on another level but the inferior product gets touted as the Nobel Prize winner.
The same is the case with mindfulness meditation. It is actually a beautiful Buddhist practice that does create true permanent change in someone. However, it does this by eliminating the bullshit out of your system but when you water it down to a lower level to make it appeal to a wider ambitious audience, you kill it. No one cared about meditation for the thousands of years it has existed but now suddenly everyone wants to get in on the bandwagon after people started marketing it towards ambitious people by offering them happiness without changing their ways.
People want to stay rooted in their comfortable ambitious ways and true meditation cannot occur under the influence of ambition. When one tries to meditate with ambition in his heart, the result is a shoddy pathetic excuse for meditation. True meditation eliminates ambition and illuminates the way towards ones ultimate flowering. The problem with mindfulness as it is currently taught is that it does not change people. It keeps them at their same sick ambitious selves while giving them a pathetic excuse to loaf.
Mindfulness programs are so popular because it lets them get off being sick with ambition. True life transforming mediation is only possible when ambition is eliminated.
We have to teach people that they are seeds of potential with their own paths to follow and guide them towards their ultimate flowering rather than telling them to go become some big shot and dooming them to a life of depression and a feverish mind. Eliminate ambition and people won’t need any mindfulness programs to be happy, they will all be flowering to their ultimate selves, free of depression and feverish growth, leaving these pathetic problems of the present in the dust.