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Some reflections on the origins of MBSR, skillful means, and the trouble with maps
Contemporary Buddhism
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2011
Pages: 281-306
Source ID: shanti-sources-22587
Zotero Collections: Health Care and Contemplation
Abstract: The author recounts some of the early history of what is now known as MBSR, and its relationship to mainstream medicine and the science of the mind/body connection and health. He stresses the importance that MBSR and other mindfulness-based interventions be grounded in a universal dharma understanding that is congruent with Buddhadharma but not constrained by its historical, cultural and religious manifestations associated with its counties of origin and their unique traditions. He locates these developments within an historic confluence of two very different epistemologies encountering each other for the first time, that of science and that of the meditative traditions. The author addresses the ethical ground of MBSR, as well as questions of lineage and of skillful ‘languaging’ and other means for maximizing the possibility that the value of cultivating mindfulness in the largest sense can be heard and embraced and cultivated in commonsensical and universal ways in secular settings. He directly addresses mindfulness-based instructors on the subject of embodying and drawing forth the essence of the dharma without depending on the vocabulary, texts, and teaching forms of traditional Buddhist environments, even though they are important to know to one degree or another as part of one's own development. The author's perspective is grounded in what the Zen tradition refers to as the one thousand year view. Although it is not stated explicitly in this text, he sees the current interest in mindfulness and its applications as signaling a multi-dimensional emergence of great transformative and liberative promise, one which, if cared for and tended, may give rise to a flourishing on this planet akin to a second, and this time global, Renaissance, for the benefit of all sentient beings and our world.