Participatory Spirituality for the 21st Century
I'm reading Jay Michaelson's Evolving Dharma right now. The language is casual, playfully irreverent, and engaging, and he touches on a number of the topics we have explored here over the years -- such as emergent P2P and open source culture (and its impact on traditional spiritual cultures and modes of instruction), secular Buddhism and Stephen Batchelor's work, Wallis' speculative non-Buddhism, the Buddhist Geeks, the intersection of Buddhism with science and psychotherapy, David Loy's engaged Buddhism, Hokai Sobol's integral Buddhism (remember Hokai from Zaadz?), etc.
Here's an article by Michaelson, adapted from the book:
You Must Change Your Life: Capitalism and the Evolving Dharma
The article basically said that the values inculcated by meditation practice are incompatible with the corporate lifestyle of greed, excess, corruption etc. And that just meditating and working in that sort of environment doesn't change anything; one must change their life. And when one does so they often leave such corporate environments.
But what about changing the values of the corporation? And/or on a much wider scale, the nature of the capitalist system? Perhaps by enacting democratic business models? And involvement with progressive political agendas? It seems these options are not explored. And that the best we can do is change our personal lives. Is that different in the book?
I haven't finished the book yet, but the last section is called "Occupy Buddhism" and is basically about both P2P reform within Buddhism and increased engagement with "social, political, economic, and ecological affairs of the world."
Here's a fuller quote from the beginning of that section:
"I think we have reason to be optimistic. The increases in non-hierarchical, participant-drive dharma communities -- and the successes that traditional ones have had in becoming that way -- have the capacity both for more political engagement and more effective internal reform. It is possible to 'Occupy Buddhism' -- possible, and powerful."
I'll comment on this more once I've read this section in full.
Speaking of which, I'm attending a secular Buddhism study group tonight at the local UU church. It will be my first engagement with them. I'm guessing Batchelor* will figure prominently, or at least I hope. I'll report back later.
* If anyone is interested, I started a Batchelor thread.
Here's his website. The following is from the multi-media page: Are spirituality and activism opposed?
"what about changing the values of the corporation? And/or on a much wider scale, the nature of the capitalist system? Perhaps by enacting democratic business models? And involvement with progressive political agendas? It seems these options are not explored. And that the best we can do is change our personal lives."
i dont think this is possible, simply because when you do that in one or a few corporations they will end up being out-competed by the corporations that remain hierarchically oriented toward the single goal of profit and are aggressive and predatory in how they operate. this is also why i think the whole concept of 'conscious capitalism' is fundamentally misguided.
and if the rules/laws were changed mandating global corporations to be mindful and responsible toward human communities and the environment, then that's not capitalism anymore, but rather a kind of corporate-based socialism. and just imagine trying to get such rules/laws implemented given the current power/money interests behind global corporations. it's not feasible.
the best option would seem to be the kind of mass exodus from corporate capitalism that buddhist mindfulness seems to inspire. then the alternatives like p2p and alternative energy systems could enter to fill the gap. only radical alternatives to capitalism rather than tweeks and reforms to its internal values and organization can solve the global crises it generates.
I agree we must move away from capitalism, it's just how. Have you read some of our previous threads on this topic? E.g.: integral global capitalism; integral anti-capitalism 1 and 2; progressive economics; eco transitions; Jeremy Rifkin. Arnsperger (eco-transitions) argues that transitional stages are needed to move into a new economy, as does Rifkin with his distributed capitalism. I've had some disagreements with both of them but they make good cases.
Saw him speak at a small Insight Sangha. His talk was supposed to question meditation models and proffer an evolving dharma. He talked about how he climbed to the top of meditation models. He criticized Asian dharmic culture as being too stratified. He criticized capitalism and folks who marginalized minorities. Same old Green song and dance.
"Same old Green song and dance."
Sounds more like the same old kennilingus dogma.
I love Motown, Green values and hippies! But I don't believe the hype. I just don't get how "evolved" they are...like I am a new species of homo sapiens because I can rationally criticize the hands that feed me? This lady came to a group I am loosely affiliated with and posed the question, is the dharma a hobby for middle to upper class white people? Anyway, one story Jay told that I liked which may be inspiring for those suffering from reactivity...he was at a conference for marriage equality and an orthodox Jew asked, what about bestiality, are we going to allow this? Jay saw that he was triggered and instead of just reacting he pointed to his wedding ring (he is Jewish, gay and married) and said can you tell me that my love for my partner is the same as someone's love for their dog? He said his meditation practice has helped him to find space between his amygdala and his pre-frontal cortex in order to act skillfully.
I'm not sure how he presented himself at the meeting you went to, but in the book, he seems fairly balanced and honest in his self-assessment -- saying that he has practiced enough no longer to be a novice, but that he still has a long way to go to reach the realization sought by his tradition.
i certainly have my limits with overly politically correct greens, but their ability to be critical of capitalism for destroying human communities and the environment and being more tolerant of alternatives that are more egalitarian and non-judgemental is something that is desperately needed at this point in history. so instead of labeling greens as mean-green nihilists as wilber and the integral orthodoxy do, we should encourage and promote the best of each level while maintaining a critical eye toward the pathological at each level. wilber is clearly in a performative contradiction when he proclaims the transcend and include imperative on the one hand and then dismisses the greens by excluding the entire archetypal lexicon of social justice from his system in favor of entrepreneurial commercialized spirituality, the postmodern form of religion in late capitalism.
Also see this post and several following, which call into question the kennilingus green meme formula while offering a different take on what constitutes postformality. I and many other alternative integralists have argued that in many ways kennilingus is itself formal and not post, one being "entrepreneurial commercialized spirituality" as you so eloquently put it. And another of your good points is that just because someone might care about more egalitarian communities, environmental stewardship and social activism doesn't in itself make them relativists where anything goes. Such reductionism is again indicative of formal operations, and skewed ones at that.
Now, back to the regularly scheduled program on Jay Michaelson.