Is Mind-Body-Spirit (MBS) Spirituality Necessarily Individualistic?

Thanks to Lloyd for this material:


Our colleague Dave Webster’s latest book Dispirited (Winchester/Washington: Zero Books, 2012) argues, among other things, that the form of spirituality promoted by MBS advocates tends to be individualistic and fosters disengagement from the socio-political sphere.  Webster is in good company as this is also argued by, amongst others, Robert N. Bellah, Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann Swidler & Steven M. Tipton, Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985); Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham: Duke University Press, 1991); Charles Taylor, Varieties of Religion Today (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002); and Adam Possamai, Religion and Popular Culture: A Hyper-Real Testament (Brussels: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2007).  However, within the sociology of religion, this remains a contested area with a number of sociologists arguing for “engaged spirituality” rather than the “spiritual individualism” advocated by the above scholars.  A…

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on mindfulness, muggles, & crying wolf

An important debate – one we’ll be seeing more of as mindfulness spreads more and more.. I foolishly read the comments too..


I try. Really, I do.

This month has been bubbling with various posts on Eastern scholars decrying Western Mindfulness. It began with Ron Purser and David Loy’s HuffPo article, Beyond McMindfulness which is likely the first time anyone from the Buddhist scholarship community has overtly taken on the therapeutic, coaching Mindfulness machine. In brief, Purser & Loy expressed concerns that the current movement of Mindfulness is not only denaturing the dharma but also lending power to corporations so that already-beleaguered employees can be lulled into a somnolent state through practices like “nonjudgmental awareness.”

The results of the Purser & Loy article were not what I would have expected: linguistic mudslinging. Protests from what may be called the “secular” mindfulness groups were no less than defensive and somewhat histrionic.  Sadly, there were worthy points in the protests but mostly lost in the defensiveness and the mutually admiring comments that followed. (There’s…

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