Things the Dalai Lama has said…
"In the West, I do not think it advisable to follow Buddhism. Changing religions is not like changing professions. Excitement lessens over the years, and soon you are not excited, and then where are you? Homeless inside yourself." – The Dalai Lama, quoted in Tibet, Tibet by Patrick French.
“Westerners who proceed too quickly to deep meditation should learn more about Eastern traditions and get better training than they usually do. Otherwise, certain physical or mental difficulties appear.”
“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
In America, the country I live in and thus the one I feel I know enough to speak about, the real test of whether an idea, system, service, or practice has any popular traction is the marketplace. I make a point of being adamant about the fact that since I live here I can speak to the issues of this country for a reason. It's become tedious just how many people spew assumptive and judgmental statements about countries they don't live in. That being said, I can attest to the "mindfulness" movement here in the U.S. as nothing more than a tool for people with the right resources to line their pockets with the money, time and energy of those who like to play pretend at enlightenment.
Eastern philosophy in the states is a product and a source of almost endless product spinoffs. Besides the centers, institutes, training organizations, retreats, workshops, courses, seminars, conferences, resorts, and travel packages, all selling various experiences of mindfulness, there’s a vast bazaar out there of mindfulness stuff. A quick look at Amazon under “meditation, books,” reveals somewhere around 85,000 titles for sale, while “meditation, all departments” lists around 500,000 items, including, but not limited to books, CDs, and DVDs as well as all the accouterments the well-accessorized practitioner of meditation could ever want.
You can purchase all the right cushions, mats, chimes, timers, gongs, incense burners, prayer beads, meditation benches, prayer shawls, yoga pants and other clothing and varied jewelry, some of which is advertised as having come sort of magical power because of the metals or magnets they're made with. Still others are blessed by monks or bathed in moonlight on a specific day and time etc. But let's not stop there, you can get baby rompers with the Om symbol, oriental-style indirect lighting fixtures, mugs (embossed with Om), aromatherapy kits, prayer banners, salt lamps, statuettes, tabletop fountains, and—pièce de résistance—a Carlos Santana fedora with a pin shaped like a combination guitar and Om symbol. Seriously, that is the tip of a very large iceberg of largely bogus product.
Needless to say, there are also loads of meditation apps available for your devices, including one called Buddhify, which allows you to set your iPhone or Android on any of 16 different meditation opportunities, including eating, feeling stressed, walking around, going to sleep, being unable to sleep, taking a work break, and “just meditating I and II.” At the end of the day there are more people paying for the appearance of enlightenment than folks who have actually experienced some form of actually feeling enlightened. Enlightenment isn't a fixed state and it isn't something one can perpetually experience. Folks are fond of the many ways they can regurgitate the concept of being spiritual beings having a human experience but the bottom line is that we live in a physical world, one cannot perpetually be spiritual in a physical world. The truly enlightened person knows that and simply works toward achieving a balance between the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of life.
At the end of the day most folks spend more time accumulating the right bobbles and things, things they can show off, things they can talk about having purchased including the afore mentioned retreats, workshops, seminars, conferences, resorts, and travel packages. There are people out there who don't meditate or do yoga at all, but they have the statuary and the right clothes and the shiny bobbles. Some go so far as to get a "yoga teacher training certification" though they have no intention of teaching at all. Their houses reek of incense and if anyone is around to watch they have a nice tofu salad. But get them without an audience and they are unsettled and overly medicated as they wait in the drive-up at McDonalds. It's clear that I have some pretty strong opinions regarding all the fakery and it is evident in much of my writing. So in this piece, though many won't bother to read it since it's over 140 characters, I would love to hear what others think. Meditate on it, then please comment. I would be very interested in a conversation about how folks feel regarding these points. From faking it to feeling it, I'd love to hear what others think of all this.