Mindfulness can be an active force for change in the world | Letters

Ronald Purser’s article on mindfulness (Tune out, 14 June) weaves a sensational point by alleging that this ancient practice is impotent beyond an individual’s relaxation because there is no call to higher ethics. While he acknowledges one half of the Buddha’s teaching of meditation – to alleviate suffering – he overlooks the second half, meditation as a path to enlightenment. That comes naturally with a dedicated practice, and that’s where ethics come in. If the author’s point is about why meditation is not marketed as being about ethics and making this world a finer place, the chances are that would be rejected by the mainstream. People must find their own ways to the truth and make their own choices.

The website of the New Kadampa Tradition–International Kadampa Buddhist Union,, puts it eloquently: “If we integrate Buddha’s teachings into our daily life we will be able to solve all our inner problems and attain a truly peaceful mind. Without inner peace, outer peace is impossible. If we first establish peace within our minds by training in spiritual paths, outer peace will come naturally; but if we do not, world peace will never be achieved, no matter how many people campaign for it.”
Liza Horan

Ronald Purser’s critique of mindfulness is based on a false premise. Advocates of mindfulness would not accept in the first place the idea, which Purser simply assumes, that some actions, processes and outcomes in the world, including enhanced material welfare and the political strife it may entail, are superior to others. It is this idea, mindfulness maintains, which leads the fevered and benighted mind to clutch at them, supposing salvation to lie only in their attainment. For the serenely aware proponents of mindfulness, as for the ancient Greek Stoics, everything in the world is equal.
Dr Sophie Botros
Sergei Abramov

Ronald Purser poses a false dichotomy between revolution and mindfulness. Mindfulness, when expertly taught, can become an active force for change, not a passive suit of armour (notwithstanding the cynical corporate misuse of the practice). It would be worth his while spending time with peace, climate change and anti-capitalist activists and finding out how many are mindfulness practitioners. Mindfulness raises awareness personally and politically – and that wakefulness prompts action.
Jeannie Mackenzie
(Former director, Everyday Mindfulness Scotland), Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire

Join the debate – email

Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit

Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.