Mindfulness 2.0 – The New Wave of Meditation Teachers

candlesphoto by Gabriel Garcia Marengo (creative commons)

There are a few common themes here. Firstly, none of these people are associated with the mainstream, baby boomer driven Vipassana movement (Mindfulness 1.0). If that’s a bunch of gobbledygook to you — perhaps a few names will help: Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Sylvia Boorstein, Jon Kabat-Zinn, etc. Without being too unkind, Mindfulness 2.0 has no association with the self-indulgence of the 1960s. No hippies. No fetishizing Asian culture.

Secondly, there is another critical difference. The first group generally won’t talk about progress or attainments in meditation practice. If you were taught meditation from a Mindfulness 1.0 affiliate — through MBSR, Spirit Rock, the Insight Meditation Society or one of their offshoots — then you sit down, you do various practices, your practices deepen — but there’s no talk of progress. In fact, the idea might sound quite odd to you. Progress?

There are some interesting historical reasons that progress or attainments are deliberately not talked about. There’s an argument for it. But Mindfulness 2.0 folk would argue it leaves a lot of people practicing aimlessly, in the dark about what some of their experiences may mean, or how they could be getting more out of their practice.

If this makes you curious, here are links to a few of those Mindfulness 2.0 practitioners.

  • Daniel Ingram. One of the founders of the Dharma Overground, which includes his book MCTB (Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha).
  • Kenneth Folk Meditation instructor. Very pragmatic: I have attainments in meditation. Here’s how you do it.
  • Vincent Horn. Founder of the website Buddhist Geeks. Despite its name Buddhist Geeks is inclusive of other traditions. The site has its own particular techie flavor.
  • Willoughby Britton. Researcher at Duke University. Here’s an Atlantic profile about her Dark Night of the Soul project.
  • David Chapman. A very analytic and thoughtful critic. Some find him overly reductionistic, but often provocative. Here’s his piece on What Got Left Out of Meditation, which covers a kind of reformation and cultural editing that happened to Buddhism and meditation.
  • Jay Michaelson. LGBT activist and many other things. Author of Evolving Dharma. This book gives a terrific overview of Mindfulness 2.0, and the link is to a podcast discussion of the book on Buddhist Geeks.

 

Mahasi Sayadaw (1904-1982)

mahasi

  • Influential Burmese Theravada monk in vipassana style.
  • Notable Western students: Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein.
  • Some publications:
    • Practical Vipasana Exercises: mahasi (pdf)
    • Satipatthana Vipassana Meditation: Satipatthana_Vipassana (pdf)
    • The Progress of Insight can be found here. It outlines experiences meditators could be expected to have along the way — something the first wave of vipassana practitioners (read: notable Western students above) chose to leave out of their version of vipassana to the West, out of concern people would become fixated on their levels of progress, and engage in endless comparison.
  • Piece at Buddhist Geeks: The Practical Dharma of Mahasi Sayadaw. which highlights one of the gulfs between Western and Eastern Vipassana practice, approach, outlook.

“As we encounter new experiences with a mindful and wise attention, we discover that one of three things will happen to our new experience: it will go away, it will stay the same, or it will get more intense. whatever happens does not really matter.” ― Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life