cover image What's Wrong with Mindfulness (And What Isn't): Zen Perspectives

What's Wrong with Mindfulness (And What Isn't): Zen Perspectives

Edited by Barry Magid and Robert Rosenbaum. Wisdom Publications, $15.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1614292838

Zen teachers and psychotherapists Magid and Rosenbaum offer a collection of thoughtful essays on the relationship between secular mindfulness practice and Zen Buddhist practice. Contributors such as Gil Fronsdal and Norman Fischer all suggest that mindfulness, rather than being defined as "bare attention," is an ethical enlightened state of being in the world, where one is not only consciously aware of the present moment but is able to respond when needed to the conditions at hand. They argue that secular mindfulness is frequently presented only through a means-end dynamic without concern for a framework to handle gradual transformations or existential confrontations. Worryingly, marketplace-based mindfulness with an emphasis on "bare attention" or "conscious awareness" could easily reinforce one's self-centeredness or delusions of perennialism. The contributors echo Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's concerns regarding Western "spiritual materialism" attitudes toward Buddhist practice, and advocate a more introspective, devoted, faithful commitment to mindfulness practice, similar to that found in Zen sanghas. Magid and Rosenbaum's collection is an important (though unfortunately brief) addition to the continuing dialogue on American Buddhism's evolution and encounter with capitalism and secularism. (Oct.)