"A quiet revolution is happening in America." So says Tim Ryan, Ohio congressman and author of A Mindful Nation, which documents the spread of mindfulness meditation across the US, and argues for its widespread adoption as a way to favourably affect the country's healthcare system, economy, schools and military.
Some Buddhists are uneasy about the mainstream co-option of mindfulness. Whereas meditators in the 60s and 70s allied themselves with counter-cultures, this movement is happening right in the heart of some very conservative institutions – bankers, government officials, doctors and management consultants are among those being sponsored to pay attention to raisins (a typical opening meditation practice) as a way to enhance not just wellbeing but also productivity and creativity.
Buddhism's second noble truth states that the cause of suffering is craving; is the power of mindfulness diluted when taught as part of the culture in contexts that may support craving? Could it even come to be perverted when employed as an instrument for the "pursuit of happiness" enshrined in the US Declaration of Independence, which from a Buddhist perspective might be viewed as a contradiction? Might happiness come from letting go of attachment even to happiness itself?