SOCIAL MINDFULNESSJun 15, 2019
I like Mark Leonard's term ‘social mindfulness’ in response to the article ‘The mindfulness conspiracy’ by Ronald Purser, who challenges the ethics of offering mindfulness to help people adjust to sickening environments. Clearly, within a healthcare setting mindfulness teachers should comply with the ethics of non-harming and relieving and preventing suffering wherever possible. Outside health care this may be less obvious. There are indeed many dubious ways of advertising and selling mindfulness to the world, ignoring the deeper causes of suffering. I doubt, however, whether people learn and use their mindfulness skills to simply adjust to unhealthy systems.
Mindfulness practice itself raises ethical awareness by growing insight into what heals and what harms. Practicing employees may take courage to change the system from within or seek other jobs. Practicing managers may commit themselves to nobler values.
Let’s not return to the fruitless debate of EITHER the individual OR the system needing to adjust. Both approaches are necessary to address all possible causes of suffering.
Teaching mindfulness is not about selling another kind of opium to the people. It is about awakening insight into the causes of suffering and responding with compassionate action.