Mindfulness

by Dr. Peter Jones on March 1, 2013

Buddhist

Mindfulness

By Dr. Peter Jones

Today I am being interviewed by CCEF (Christian Counseling Education Foundation) in Philadelphia, on the subject of MINDFULNESS.

The gong sounds three times and people begin to focus their attention on a fixed point. A Buddhist temple scene? No. A seminar room at Google headquarters, or one at General Mills, or a gathering at Davos, the annual World Economic Forum in Switzerland, bringing together the world’s political, cultural and economic leaders. This is the latest attempt to get people in touch with their “true” selves.

“Mindfulness” claims to sharpen the mind for sustained focus on the present, thus bringing clarity of thought for effective action. But this of course is but the threshold effect. The technique comes straight out of Buddhist spirituality and consists in silencing the conversation going on in the mind, what we have long called “conscience,” detaching people from maya, the illusion of the reality of the self and of physical reality and notions of  right and wrong.

This is part of the massive invasion of Eastern spirituality into the once “Christian” West. Like yoga classes, mindfulness programs are now used extensively in schools, brain-washing the rising generation into adopting as normal the pagan belief that all is one and that distinctions like good and evil, male and female are no longer useful in the global culture of the future.

If Christians do not wake up and get “mindful” of what is happening, in a few years we will be but a footnote of western history.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Judy Brearly March 4, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Thank you, Dr. Jones, for coming to DE last weekend! I’m enjoying your book & this website. I would love to have that list of things in our culture, that were once distinctly two, but are becoming the same, that you flashed on your PowerPoint. I can’t find it on the website or in your books. Ex: male/female, parent/child,… there were about 20 of them. I thought that really drove home your point.

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William Higareda December 25, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Dr Jones,

I first heard you on “Aeon Byte” with Miguel Conner. I must admit that your teaching has intrigued me and I agree with much of what you say about the current state of our culture. I too, along with many Buddhists, do not buy into a lot of what you define as “pagan spirituality”. Buddhism should not be lumped in with what you define as paganism. Buddhism is it’s own thing. There is no concept of “one-ism”, nor “two-ism”.

There is no moral relativism in Buddhist teaching. To the contrary, there are 5 moral precepts that are to be adhered to for proper practice; not to lie, not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct; not to partake of intoxicants. These 5 moral precepts are critical for cultivating mindfulness, that results in the end of suffering i.e. the eventual extinction of the mental processes of attachment and aversion to phenomena of mind and matter. This trajectory is a far cry from what most of the “integrated” spiritual movements are teaching.

Lastly, the silencing of the internal dialogue is not silencing the “conscience”. Most of our internal dialogue is fruitless, meaningless, and occasionally harmful self-talk. The moral compass is not removed by silencing the internal chatter. The concept of “Maya” is a Hindu notion, not a Buddhist one. This distinction is important because there is stark contrast between the Buddhist and Hindu world views.

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Pam Frost December 30, 2013 at 7:10 pm

William – Thank you for your thoughtful post and your careful consideration of the influence of pagan spirituality on the trajectory of our culture. Thank you for giving earnest thought to Dr. Jones’ hermeneutic of Oneism and Twoism as definitive of the two primary cosmological worldviews.

Let me first explain that we do recognize the distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism in terms of religious/philosophical doctrine. We also understand that Buddhism requires adherence to moral imperatives, as you mention, which are part of the Noble Eightfold Path to final liberation from suffering. But please follow my reasoning here in explaining why we believe that Buddhism very much falls within the category of Oneist spirituality.

As you point out, Buddhism grapples with the problem of suffering and the solution it proposes is adherence to ethical and moral absolutes in order to attain the meditative state called mindfulness, which leads, as you say, to the “eventual extinction of the mental processes of attachment and aversion to phenomena of mind and matter.” But here is where we recognize the Oneist worldview: the ultimate collapse of the mind’s distinction between “attachment” and “aversion” to that which is either good or bad in the mind’s perception of material reality. The Buddhist state of mindfulness meditation paradoxically results in blurring the mind’s capacity to draw moral distinctions.

While I realize that this may not be your personal experience (blurring moral distinctions), the Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddhist Wheel (Circle) of Dharma is intended to lead to the ultimate state of Nirvana in which the flame of self-awareness is extinguished as a candle as one merges into the monistic void. This is the realization of the Buddhist doctrine of anatta or “no-self” that ultimately denies the existence of the soul. So while Buddhism gives empirical recognition to the existence of individual persons on the one hand, requiring adherence to clearly defined moral precepts, it ultimately leads to annihilation of individuality within the Oneist void of Nirvana, promising bliss beyond self-awareness, and thus final liberation from suffering. Since many Buddhist schools claim to be atheistic in belief (I say “claim” because many Buddhist traditions rely on a pantheon of deities to facilitate intercourse with the spirit realm), it seems that Buddhism ends in annihilation of God, the soul, and nature as everything slips into the universal void – a kind of nihilistic version of Oneism.

I have always been struck by the similarity between the moral imperatives of the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism, as you listed above, and the last five of the Ten Commandments:

6) You shall not murder
7) You shall not commit adultery
8) You shall not steal
9) You shall not bear false witness
10) You shall not covet

In Buddhism, one strives to attain Nirvana by self-effort to keep a set of moral laws without reference to God. But the Bible has a vastly different purpose in revealing the Ten Commandments, which begin with a declaration of who God is: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” The first four commandments center on the person of God and the fifth centers on the family:

1) You shall have no other gods besides Me
2) You shall not make or worship idols
3) You shall not take the Lord’s name in vain
4) Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy
5) Honor your father and mother

Thus in Biblical Theism (Twoism), our moral obligation is to a personal Creator who is distinct from His creation. The cause of suffering is humanity’s fallen sin nature, which separates us from God and causes all the sin and suffering in the world. Rather than a self-driven path to enlightenment, the Ten Commandments demonstrate that we are all guilty law-breakers before the holy Creator. The remedy for sin and suffering in this life is faith in Jesus who alone fulfilled God’s law perfectly and died on the cross in our place to pay for our sin. The Ten Commandments are not a path toward self-righteousness, but a testimony to our need for God’s Savior Jesus. Our hope is not in detachment from the pain, sickness, and suffering that are a reality in this life, but in reconciliation with our Creator through faith in Jesus. This gives us hope in the midst of this fallen world with all its suffering as well as the certainty of eternal life in resurrected bodies with our personal Creator and redeemer in Heaven. While Buddhism is ultimately impersonal (denying Creator and also the human soul), Christianity values the souls of individual persons because our Creator God, in whose image human beings were originally created, is a personal God rather than an impersonal force or energy.

I hope this helps you understand why we consider Buddhism to be an expression of Oneism and I hope you will consider the biblical solution to the problem of suffering, the person of Jesus.

Thank you again for your very intelligent comments.

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