This talk continues the ongoing exploration of the distress and confusion prevalent in current American society, with a focus on consumerism. Peter described how exposure to commercial advertising even before we learn to read negatively influences our self-identity and values in life. Contemporary research conducted by commercial and political interests is very sophisticated in cultivating craving and clinging regarding material possessions and social status and this creates much distress and confusion for us all, whether we are aware of the conditioning or not. The understanding and application of the Four Noble Truths can be very beneficial in recognizing the manipulation of advertising and cultivating a more stress-resilient lifestyle and provide a secure basis for Buddhist Awakening processes. Consumerism has had significant negative influence on contemporary culture (See previous talks on depression, anxiety and addiction, which are epidemic in our society), as well as a serious and increasingly destructive impact on the earth’s environment through global warming, massive pollution, etc., which creates enormous personal and societal stress. There are ways to personally and socially affect these conditions; the application of them requires the sort of self-inquiry and discipline that mindfulness meditation practice provides.
Peter referred to last week’s talk, posted September 4, that referred to the Four Clear Comprehensions as a useful “decision tree” for setting goals in life that counter the adverse conditioning of consumerism and provide the ways and means for cultivating Right Livelihood. You are invited to contemplate your direct daily experience of dukkha (First Noble Truth) when exposed to commercial advertising and then practice recognizing the craving and clinging embedded within advertising (Second Noble Truth) and train yourself to use Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration to cultivate Right Livelihood (Fourth Noble Truth) and realize liberation from consumerism (Third Noble Truth).
There was discussion among those attending about how daily mindfulness of breathing meditation has been beneficial in overcoming the temptations of consumer culture.
Here are the notes prepared for this talk: Dukkha And Consumerism
There will be an ongoing series of discussions focusing on various aspects of consumer acculturation such a managing finances, maintaining physical health, cultivating ways to counter social polarization, etc., along with ways that the Four Noble Truths can effectively impact these important lifestyle issues.