In A Republic of Mind and Spirit, Catherine Albanese asserts that American metaphysical religion has four characteristics:
- a focus on the mind and its powers;
- concern with correspondence between the inner and the outer spheres of existence or the macrocosm and microcosm;
- a preference for metaphors and concepts of movement and energy;
- a therapeutic orientation that conceives of salvation in terms of healing.1
The mindfulness movement relates itself to all of the above metaphysical and religious concepts.
For mindfulness advocates “sin” is failure to operate in the proper mental sphere, that is to be unmindful. In Mindful America, Jeff Wilson argues that from the mindfulness advocates point of view, the evil confronting Americans is distracting devices and dangerous methods (sex, food, alcohol, and work). These temptations that we surround and surrender ourselves to result in ill-health in our bodies, relationships, institutions, and environment. The antidote, the solution to all our problems, is getting in tune with the infinitude of the present moment, being in the now, in the non-judgmental flow of the experience itself.2 In traditional Buddhism this mental state is called nirvana, and believed to be the end of suffering and beginning of salvation.
Despite the claims made by mindfulness advocates that there is no religion involved, the mindfulness movement is an expression of both Buddhism and American metaphysical religion: “it is an American Buddhist metaphysical religion”.3 Wilson argues, in Mindful America, that there is overwhelming evidence that the mindfulness movement as a whole is part of American metaphysical religion, even in its most secular and medical forms.
1 Jeff Wilson, Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture, Oxford University Press. 2014. Hardcover. p190
2 ibid p191
3 ibid p192