Promoters of “secular” mindfulness avoid using the loaded words “Buddhism” or “religion,” and may even steer clear of mentioning “spirituality” or “meditation.” But the practice is essentially similar to that taught in many Buddhist basics classes, says Candy Gunther Brown in Huffington Post. And the hope, expressed by certain key leaders in the secular mindfulness movement, is that introductory classes alleviate suffering for all practitioners, while providing at least some of them with a doorway into deeper, explicitly Buddhist meditation.
This article originally appeared in Huffington Post
Jenny Wilks, a teacher of both explicitly Buddhist and secular mindfulness who received training from Kabat-Zinn, explains in a 2014 article for Insight Journal that “key Dharma teachings and practices are implicit” in secular mindfulness classes. Rather than “diluting the Dharma,” Wilks sees “secular mindfulness” as “highly accessible Dharma,” a “distillation” of the “essence” of the Buddha’s key teachings, repackaged to “make strong medicine palatable.” Wilks notes that some participants in secular classes “do later go on to access Buddhist classes,” and reports that Buddhist retreat centers have “seen an increase in the numbers of people coming on retreats and many of them have started with a secular eight-week course.”
Some Buddhists affirm a “stealth Buddhist” approach to mainstreaming mindfulness as exemplifying the Buddhist virtue of “skillful” speech. Other Buddhists caution that skillful speech should always be truthful — that if even silence may deceive, then one must speak the whole truth; exceptions apply only to those who have already reached such a degree of awakening that they are free of self-interest and seek only to alleviate suffering. Yet, proprietary, trademarked mindfulness programs hint that secular mindfulness may be implicated in the self-interested American commercial, self-help market.
Read the full article Mindfulness: Stealth Buddhist Strategy for Mainstreaming Meditation? | Candy Gunther Brown, Ph.D. at Huffington Post