As we've seen in the last couple of modules, there's a widespread assumption in the science of mindfulness that when we look for the philosophical foundations of mindfulness, we're looking into Buddhism. In this module we're going to go into a little more depth about the reasons for this and the extent to which this makes sense. One of the concerns that we've already explored in some detail is whether modern construct mindfulness that we explored in the last module, has been guided in it's development by Buddhism. Or whether it's development and characteristics have really been driven by the imperatives of operationalization and quantitative measurement. One of the issues to which this question should alert us concerns our vision of the meaning of history and development itself. To put this in rather vulgar terms, modern science is invested in the idea of progressive knowledge. This means that with some important and notable exceptions science envisions itself as involved in the gradual refinement and improvement of ideas and concepts, theories and artifacts. Modern medicine, for instance, is better in almost every conceivable way then medieval medicine. The assumption in this world view is that the first version of things is rarely the best version. Which is why we make prototypes and test things, hoping always to be able to improve them. This means that the original is not, per se, the best or real version of something, it's just a first attempt. And of course this vision of scientific progress is rather irreverent and unapologetically so. Indeed, as we saw in the last module, reverence and science don't really mix very easily, unless of course it's reverence for science itself and that can cause its own problems. Conversely, however, we might adopt the vision of the significance of history in which the original version of something represents its most pristine and most pure form. This could be a religious attitude where the original is some form of sacred revelation or it could be a species of a philological attitude in which the original is simply the real version of something that later becomes confused, contaminated or confounded by the interpretations of others. Human history, if you like, take us further and further away from truth. And not progressively closer towards it. These issues are especially relevant to the ways in which Westerners have talked about Buddhism, Doaism, Hinduism, and other religions and spiritual traditions that seemed to have developed outside the European context. Indeed since the late 1970s following the landmark publication of Edward Said's book Orientalism, the Humanities have been very self conscious about the risks of privileging the idea that the Orient, wherever that might be, is a reservoir filled with ancient, mysterious, and pristine original meanings. While the West is represented as a space of progressive, experimental, and scientific knowledge. A symptom of this ideological tendency is, for instance, that most of the attention given to Buddhism in scientific mindfulness Is focused on texts from two and a half thousand years ago. These are the original texts, like the Pali Satipaṭṭhāna sutta which we'll consider in the next session. While there are good reasons for this, one of the dangers is that more than two millennia of criticism, debate, and philosophical inquiry into the concept and practice of mindfulness in Asian Buddhism are basically ignored. This danger is at least two-fold. First, mindfulness scientists and practitioners in the West miss out on the incredible wealth of learning about this field that has developed in Asia over thousands of years, and thus risk struggling to reinvent the wheel. Second, they risk giving the distasteful impression that these thousands of years of knowledge just don't count precisely because they took place in Asia, and not in London or Paris or New York. That is, well, the science has to start again for some reason with the original text and do it properly. One consequence of this is that the material about or perhaps claims about Buddhist mindfulness in the field today can seem rather naive or even offensive to well informed Buddhist or scholars of Buddhism. The Dalai Lama himself, is on record as saying, the secular mindfulness seems like a positive technology but that is not Buddhism. In practice of course many individual thinkers, scientists and practitioners are very careful creative and responsible about how they navigate through these issues. However the atmosphere of the field as a whole does tend in this kind of orientless direction. We see quite a bit of language like east versus west or perhaps worse east versus science in the literature as though these are opposing categories which risks locating some of the discussions back in the cultural debates of cultural studies in the 1980s. When we, whoever we are, label something as eastern or western come to that, what is the actual content of what we're saying? And if we really thought about it properly, would we really want to say it? One of the things that this kind of language often disguises is the unequivocal fact that the East is not a place for even a coherent category. It's an ideological marker or an umbrella. It not only acts to separate various ideas and artifacts from the West or from science, but it also blurs other things together. The East becomes a label that asserts the unity of, say, Buddhists, Daoist, and Hindu ideas, is that they're a part of a common entity. Mindfulness, martial arts, yoga, Qigong all seem to merge into one. While more worryingly for us, this blurry logic extends to other terms, such as Buddhism is often presented although it's a single entity. Rather than a constellation of multiple complicated, fractured and sophisticated traditions. Certainly not all, but quite a few interventions into the space of mindfulness as science and therapy blur together half a dozen different Buddhist traditions. They stir in a touch of Zen, a sprinkling of vipassana. An eclectic mix of the Theravada sects as though baking a cake in the image of the Dalai Llama is often just placed there like a cherry on the top as though the head of the numerically very small Tibetan tradition can represent all Buddhism. One pressing question at this point, is whether any of this actually matters. Does it matter if construct mindfulness has cobbled together an eclectic, an inconsistent sense of its origins in a representation of Buddhism that mixes various Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions together just because of their ostensible easterness. After all, construct mindfulness is a modern construction It constantly seeks to improve and refine its effectiveness by testing and incorporating new ideas and components. Its point is not philosophical or spiritual fidelity or conservatism. It's not ideological respectability, but rather its point is to be maximally effective as a therapeutic or lifestyle intervention today so, if the cake tastes good, isn't that enough? In the standpoint of Buddhism as a religion or tradition this kind of eclecticism might appear offensive even violent, it pulls things apart that should be revered as integrated or whole. This rather post-modern approach also sets the possibility that scientists, instructors and therapists of mindfulness might make claims about Buddhism, often in good faith, that are not really about Buddhism at all but instead are about construct mindfulness. Hence this kind of practical eclecticism which is simply designed to improve the construct, might result in general confusion about the relationship between construct mindfulness, Buddhist mindfulness, Buddhism as a whole. And this is, of course, exactly what we find in many places. However, it's important to remember that this kind of confusion does not make the method wrong, per se. It just calls attention to the need for better education and more clarity about what's going on. In other words, it's neither self evident that construct mindfulness is simply a modern of expression of an original Buddhist mindfulness. Nor that it should be. The relationship between modern mindfulness and Buddhism is not simple, and certainly not linear. One thing that is very clear, however, is that the long sophisticated and intricate history of Buddhism and other traditions contain plenty of invaluable resources to help us today, to think about and refine a construct mindfulness that works for us. This means very simply that practicing modern mindfulness does not mean we are participating in Buddhism. And it does not make us into Buddhists, whether we want it to or not. If our interest is really in becoming a Buddhist, then we should become Buddhists. It's worth sitting with this insight for a little while. Yes, all Buddhists should practice mindfulness, but that doesn't mean that everyone who practices mindfulness is a Buddhist. In fact, it doesn't even mean that these practices should be the same. One of the really liberating lessons from this is that the task of philosophy in the field of the science of mindfulness is not to attempt to map or even to justify an assumed map between construct mindfulness and say the Buddhist concept of Sati. Instead, the contribution of philosophy is to help us identify resources that enliven our understanding understanding of the meaning and potentials of the modern transnational construct. This immediately opens the field to investigations of other non-Buddhist studies of thought. We might consider Daoism, for instance, which we will in this module, while stoicism or quietism, or any other number of other philosophical movements. We might look at contemporary philosophy in different parts of the world. Or we might consider the valuable philosophical contributions made by literature or poetry or art. Even a cursory look at Jon Kabat-Zinn now classic book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, will demonstrate how this might be done. If you haven't read it, read it. Such textual work is not only in order to help scientists and therapists understand how construct mindfulness might be deployed. But as we saw in the last module it's also a way to support the significant number of practitioners who engage with secular mindfulness in the context of interventions like MBSR and MBCT only to find themselves thirsty for or even in quite desperate need of more analytically and conceptually sophisticated interpretations of their experiences. And of what these might mean for their lives. Such practitioners are often frustrated by what can seem like the anti-intellectualism of mindfulness interventions, in which, as we've seen, the emphasis is very much on the experiential cultivation of a particular mode of attention and way of being, or what we've seen Williams called, being mode. Often rather than, on analysis of reasoned interrogation and intellectual striving are what we call doing mode. Practitioners who push this issue are usually directed to Buddhist organizations, teachers or texts for further insight, and indeed it's not clear that therapeutic programs of mindfulness training. Like MBSR and MBCT are the appropriate places for philosophical inquiry of any kind. Nonetheless, it would be irresponsible of us to ignore the fact that some practitioners feel that they need this kind of insight to support their practice. And some of those are uncomfortable with the assumption that they should naturally turn to Buddhism. Or at least only to Buddhism for it. To be clear, I don't want to denigrate this turn to Buddhism, and for many it's a genuinely wonderful, and for all of us, an extremely valuable thing. But if we take the idea of construct mindfulness seriously, this shouldn't be the only option for practitioners. As soon as we limit the philosophical field to Buddhism, we run the risk that they're secretly assuming that mindfulness is really Buddhism after all. And hence that we're quietly smuggling it into hospitals, schools, and offices. Rather than engaging in this kind of smuggling we should at least be able to enable practitioners to search for understanding and inspiration in a range of philosophical traditions. Not only, but definitely also in Buddhism. If nothing else, many practitioners are searching for inspirational and aspirational models and ideal types. As we saw back in the first module of this course. The monk, the ninja, the jedi, the hippy and so on. And then as we discovered in the last module, where we choose to place our attention has real meaning for our emotional tone in the way we signify our experiences in the world. In other words, the things we choose as aspirations or inspirations change how we experience ourselves and the world around us. Belief and spirituality are themselves transformational factors. As we've noted before and as we'll see again, this insight has a similar taste to the Buddhist teaching of expedient means. Finally, it's important to be aware that one of the common aspects of all the philosophies that we'll consider in this context in the rest of this module is their emphasis on practice. That is in keeping with the empirical findings from tests in MBSR and NBST, each of these philosophical systems makes the case that intellectual reasoning and technical knowledge is not enough. To bring about experiential or existential transformation. So knowing, talking, and debating about mindfulness does not make us mindful. And at the same time all of them emphasize that real change, the change that matters, must be some form of embodied change. Mindfulness isn't something we know. It's something we should become by practicing it. A vital implication of this is that even if we could envision a form of talking therapy to assist practitioners with the existential anxieties that are not addressed in conventional mindfulness interventions, any such vision must supplement existing experiential approaches, and not replace them. So, in this module we are going to start by exploring a range of Buddhist ideas about mindfulness, beginning with the notion of Sati itself but then wandering through associated development such as Samatha, calm-abiding and vipasana or insight. We'll even take a quick plunge into the Zen practice of Shikantaza or just sitting. Using these ideas as our springboard, we'll then leap briefly through some other traditions of thought that seem to speak to common issues, such as Daoism, Stoicism, and various currents in contemporary philosophy, such as pragmatism. In the end, before we move on to the next module and our consideration of the social, ethical, and political impact of mindfulness today, this module should give us a sense of what kinds of ideas and challenges and opportunities mindfulness presents to our vision of our place in the world around us.