Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Batchelor: commercialism and mindfulness

Stephen Batchelor discusses commercialism and mindfulness.
Well, we live in a consumer capitalist society, in which commodification is the name of the game. And if mindfulness were not being commodified, that would be enormously surprising. It has not got, it is not immune to the same forces that govern pretty much everything else that the mass media turns its attention to. So I am not surprised whatsoever that people are trying to cash in on mindfulness, whether that be corporations thinking that their work force will be more docile if their mindful, or whether it’s Buddhist groups trying to raise some money to fix the roof on the temple, and putting on a mindfulness course, about which they may not know a great deal.
This is just the way the world works. So I am not particularly bothered by all of that. But what I am concerned about is that we’re faced here with, I think, a window of opportunity that may not be open that long, it’s all over the place, mindfulness is everywhere now, but it is also a fad, very likely, a fashion. Something else will come along, which the media will latch on to, mindfulness and will become probably a bit passe.
And I think that this window of opportunity is and extraordinary important moment in our culture whereby those of us who, I think, are concerned with this either as mindfulness teachers or as secular Buddhists or whatever, I think we need to maximize, or let’s say, I think we need to optimize this opportunity. To really think through as carefully as we can what the implications of the mindfulness movement are, of how we might create a framework or a structure in which we can move this forward in ways that are not in the service of commodification but, in the service of human well being, and human sanity.
That at least is very much how I see my own work at the moment, is trying to craft a language, a discourse, an idiom in which we can talk about these things without either borrowing buddhist jargon or simply repeating psychotherapeutic phraseology. We need to find an idiom, a language, that speaks to people in their ordinary lives and speaks beyond their own personal well being to make them more open and aware of the suffering in the wider world, both of humans and other forms of life.
So I think mindfulness has a tremendous potential to move beyond the relatively small privileged, middle class, therapeutic, and Buddhist world, into offering a perspective on life that they might, you know, people from all sorts of background and religious beliefs and so on and find resources within themselves to live more fully, to live more kindly, to live more wisely.

In this video Stephen Batchelor discusses the relationship between mindfulness and commercialization or monetization.

This article is from the free online

Demystifying Mindfulness

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now