Increasing Mindfulness Without Morality Can Be Dangerous

Without the right motivation
towards the right goal,
anything in between
might be wrong.

– Shilashanti

As noted by Matthieu Ricard, a French Buddhist monk, ‘There can be mindful snipers and mindful psychopaths who maintain a calm and stable mind. But there cannot be caring snipers and psychopaths.’ Training soldiers to care while killing seem unlikely to change much, however sincerely people try… John Dyckman suggest learning from Japanese Zen Buddhism, which is still suffering from its enthusiastic collaboration with militarianism. [Ed. See the important book ‘Zen at War’ by Brian Victoria, on how Soto and Rinzai Zen sects of Japanese Buddhism supported military imperialism in World War II.] ‘We need to be very careful in separating the ‘techniques’ of Buddhist practice from the context of non-violence lest we repeat the same shameful history,’ Dyckman warns…

‘Attention control’ for soldiers needs to be differentiated from Buddhist Right Mindfulness — where the aim is not improvements in marksmanship, but to develop compassion, wholesome mental states, and skilful (non-harmful) behaviours, which are put in the service of all sentient beings, including those perceived as ‘enemies’… Although the Buddha did not deny the inevitable reality of human conflict, he avoided cozying up to armies and teaching their soldiers to be more resilient. Instead, he advised kings and generals to avoid violent means, counseling them to examine the genesis of conflict and to identify skillful behaviors to resolve them. [Ed. ‘Mindfulness’-training not to express murderous hate but to further commercial greed is obviously also wrong.]

McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality
Ronald E. Purser

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