Discovery - - THINKING EAST AND WEST 說東道西 -


An Amazon search turned up 26,520 books on the subject of mindfulness. It has escaped the confines of the New Age and Spirituality sections and taken over the shelves and categories devoted to Health, Family, Lifestyle, Self Help and Stress Management, to name but a few.

Mindfulness is a Buddhist practice. It will not escape the attentive browser’s attention, however, that Buddhist values are as conspicuous by their absence in the West as mindfulness is by its omnipresence. Western culture is materialistic and hedonistic, too caught up in the cycle of consumption to seek a way out of the cycle of rebirth.

It is tempting to see the rise of mindfulness as a reaction against these worldly values, a sign that capitalism is exhausting itself and will soon be replaced by something that speaks more to the human spirit. There is surely something to this. Sociologists such as Ronald Inglehart have suggested that ‘post-materialist’ values are on the rise. As our physical needs are met we become less focused on wealth and possessions and more on what gives life meaning and purpose.

If this is the direction of travel, it’s a very slow one. Inglehart developed his thesis in the 1970s, since which time we’ve seen the brash consumerism of the ‘80s and no end to the power of high-status brands. Even if the times are a-changing, the idea that they are moving in anything like a Buddhist direction seems farfetched. The key post-materialist values Inglehart identified were autonomy and self-expression. Western society remains focused on individualism, whereas Buddhism emphasises the lack of an abiding self and the ultimate goal of dissolving ego altogether.

If mindfulness is not a sign of a rising Eastern spirituality in the West, what explains its enormous popularity? The short answer is that it has been thoroughly domesticated. It has not been so much adopted as adapted, reformulated and repackaged to meet the needs of the Western consumer.

The recurring words in the titles of books on mindfulness reveal these priorities: ‘reducing stress’ and ‘restoring wellbeing’. Mindfulness has been repurposed from enabling spiritual growth to providing therapeutic relief. Modern life is often frantic and stressful. Buddhist mindfulness would offer an alternative

在亞馬遜上搜尋以正念為主題的書就籍有, 26,520個搜尋結果出現。它已擺脫新紀元運動和靈性範疇的束,縛 進佔健康、家庭、、生活 自助和力理書壓 管 等 籍類別。

正念是一種佛教。,修行 然而 細心的瀏覽自者 會注意到,佛教價值觀在西方想思付之闕如,如同正念在西方大行其道般顯然易見。西方文化著重物質和享樂,深陷在消費的輪迴裡不能自拔,無法超脫。

正念思潮抬頭,往往被視為抗衡這些俗世價值觀的方式是,更 資本主義油盡燈枯,快將被更能迎合人類靈性的事物取代的徵兆。這現象自有其深層意義。Ronald Inglehart等社會學曾家 提出,「後物質主義」價值觀正日漸興起。隨著物質需求得到滿足,人們的焦點也逐漸遠離金錢和財產,轉而著眼於賦予生活意義和目的之事物。

要是思想的確朝著這個方向發展,進程謂度慢可極緩 。Inglehart於1970年代已

path that leaves behind the causes of these stresses. Secular mindfulness offers a way to deal with the contemporary world without renouncing it. Just do your practice every day, even while you commute to work, and you will be able to ride the rollercoaster calmly rather than kicking and screaming.

Indeed, it’s not just about surviving the modern world, but thriving in it. Mindfulness books also often talk about how their ‘effective techniques’ can help you ‘reach your goals’. These methods are taught to corporate executives trying to make large profits and even to military personnel coping in conflict zones. Needless to say, these are not ways of life that the Buddha advocated.

Perhaps the most common word associated with secular mindfulness is ‘happiness’. This might seem to align better with Buddhist values, especially given that even the Dalai Lama has described his creed as ‘the art of happiness’. However, Buddhist happiness is not secular happiness. It is an inner state achieved by detaching from the self and the world, dwelling instead in pure compassion. Secular mindfulness promises that we can be happy in the conventional sense, living normal lives. It is a way to secure worldly pleasures, not to renounce them.

The contrast between Buddhist and secular mindfulness neatly highlights the nature of Western inwardness, in which self-examination is in the service of self-development. It has become almost completely functional and utilitarian. We peer into our souls as mechanics peer into engines, looking to see what’s broken or what needs tuning up so that when we close the bonnet, we can drive off smoothly. Introspection that does not have any clear practical benefit is dismissed as mere ‘navel gazing’.

There was a time when reflection had higher goals. Christian monasticism exemplified the need to look within in order to better serve God. However, this in one sense selfless practice was also rooted in the same individualism we see flowering today. Christianity emphasises the relationship between the individual and a personal God. So once religious belief started to decline, the individual remained but the higher purpose vanished.

A nobler purpose for inner reflection might be found in Aristotle. He saw the purpose of life not as material gain or mere happiness but ‘flourishing’. To achieve that we have to examine ourselves carefully and question our values, not just cultivate a state of ‘mindfulness’ that enables us to carry on as we were, only with greater calm and focus.

發表其論文,可是費消 主義卻自80年代開始大行其道,奢侈品牌的力勢更是無止境地張擴 。縱然時代已變遷,認為世正界 投向佛學等靈性觀念的懷抱也未免牽強附會。Inglehart界後定的 物質主義價值觀主要是自主和自我表達,西方社會依然著重個人主義,教而佛 則強調無我,以及最終完全放下我執。

倘若正念並非東方靈性思潮正在西方興起的徵兆,又該如何解釋它廣受歡迎的現象?簡短答是的 案 正念已徹底入鄉隨俗西。 方社會並沒有不加修飾地採納正念理論,反而將之改、編 重新演繹和裝,從而迎合西方消費者的需要。

關於正念的書籍名,書 不斷出現的字眼,揭示了正念書籍的大前提往往是「減壓」和「重拾身心健康」。正念本為促進靈性成長,卻被裝成慰藉身心的療法。現代生活往往繁雜紛擾,令人充滿壓,力 而佛教正念正可提供將壓力拋諸腦後的另一條出路。世俗的正念提供一種對面 當代社會而毋須棄摒 它的方式:只要每天修行即, 使在 上下班途中也保持專注,自可平面對起伏跌宕,消弭激動情緒。

正念除是存了 生 之道,更是在現代社會裡踏出青雲路的竅門。正念書籍往往談及其「有效技巧」如何助人「實現目標」,並將授之 予試圖賺取巨額盈利企高的業層,以至在軍事衝突地區求存的軍人。毫無疑問,這些均絕非佛陀主張的生活方式。

與俗世 的正念最常扯上的關係 詞語,也許是「快樂」。看這來與佛教價值觀較為相,近 因為就連達賴嘛把信形喇 也 其 念容為「快樂的藝術」。可是佛,教的快樂並不等同世俗的快樂;它是種一 脫離自我和世界,只處於純粹的慈悲所達至的內在狀態俗。世 的正念應許人們能夠如常生活,從中獲得常規的快樂;這是一種保證享受塵世愉悅,無將須 之捨棄的方法。

佛教和世俗正念的對比,精闢刻出劃西方內省的本質——自我檢討是自我發展的竅門,而這種思考方法已幾乎完全變得講求實用和功利。汽如同 車工技 檢汽視 車引擎,那樣 我們窺探靈魂深處,找出損日或需要修正的部分,求務在引擎蓋關上後能夠利順 方車離開。不具任何清晰和實質益處的內省,則被認為純屬紙上談兵,棄被如敝。屣

在歷史上,反思曾被賦予更崇高的目標;教基督 的修道制度是證就 例 ,它強信調徒內需要 省,從而更好地事奉上帝。然而這種可謂無私的修行同,亦 時源於今日蓬勃發展的個人主義。教基督 強調個人與信其仰的上帝之間的關係,故當宗教信仰逐漸式微,時 崇高的目的消失無蹤,惟有個人依然存在。

亞里士多德的學說或許表達了更為高尚的內省。目的 他認為生活的意義並非物質利益或單純的快樂,而是「茁壯成長」。要實踐這一目標,我們需要謹慎檢視自我,質疑自身的價,值觀 而非純粹培養一種讓我們依然故我,更只是 為平和專注的「正念狀」態。


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