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Hi Gillian, I would like to comment on the importance of a system of ethics behind mindfulness meditation. In the West we teach mindfulness meditation as a system on its' own. However, it comes from Buddha and his system of ethics. Those ethics include compassion for self and all other beings, loving kindness self and others and equanimity , being nonreactive to name just a few. Unfortunately, if those who study mindfulness don't see it as part of a transformational set of ethics which predispose them to building a better and more accepting world it might just be a self improvement technique. There is nothing wrong with self improvement. However, continuing to have hatred of others, continuing high reactivity to differences and disrespect for diversity are really not compatible with the direction towards which Budda encouraghed people to move. I would encourage all students of mindfulness and their teachers to investigate the underlying system of ethics and to incorporate them or work on doing so in their daily lives. It is not always easy but always necessary. Daniel A. Detwilertowards
I absolutely agree with you. Mindfulness is only one component of the wisdom teachings of Buddhism and other ancient philosophies. Your comment makes me think of something similar with yoga. In modern society, we tend to think of yoga as being about physical postures. Indeed this is a part of it, but asana practice is only one of Patanjali's eight limbs. WIthin the other seven limbs we find key teachings relating to non-violence, truthfulness, self-discipline, concentration, and so on. It is definitely very important to explore the whole realm of these teachings because you're right - otherwise it can become about self-improvement exclusively.