Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Head-On Collision with the Traffic of Capitalism's 'Golden Gate Bridge' (I)

The last few years my mother was alive a frequent refrain I heard was that she wasn't going to mind when death arrived. She said, now that she was in her eighties, when she looked back she could see the many ways she'd had a good life. Since I retired, and especially during the Practice Period at Green Gulch, I've had the chance to reflect back and inquire about the many ways my mother's statement can be applied to my own life. 

One of the main things that stands out is my contribution as a scientist — not only my research, also my contribution in terms of energy and enthusiasm to the larger community. (Check out my Curriculum Vitae on the Pages of this website! View All.) As a scientist I was very much at the cutting edge of the research on neuronal plasticity that serves as a foundation for the Dalai Lama's efforts to bring meditation, mindfulness and compassion to society. 

image from TIME's Beautiful, White, Blonde 'Mindfulness Revolution 
by Joanna Piacenza in The Huffington Post

Most scientists and business savvy geeks will admit that simply showing that different areas of the human brain light up during meditation is not much more advanced than the archaic practice of phrenology though it might qualify as "sexy" marketing. An irony that may escape any mindful vegetarians reading this blog is that, however regrettable, much of the scientific data that is being used to market meditation and mindfulness relies on decades of animal research for it's interpretation — not just young sexy blondes as some advertisers might lead you to believe. (I'm in my late 50's and post-menopausal, thank you very much!) More seriously, as I said to a handful of people during my visits to Sanshin-ji and Green Gulch this last year, I meditated and 'mindfulnessed' myself out of what some would call a near perfect life, near perfect because all careers, marriages and especially 1920s bungalows need work and cooperation to maintain. It is this observation, as much as my credentials and thirty or more years of meditation and mindfulness experience, that qualifies me to comment on, even critique, the Mindfulness Revolution and the gimmicks used to market it whether in real life or online.

My Head-On Collision with the Traffic of Capitalism's 'Golden Gate Bridge'

So what happened? What was the event that caused me to dare compare my life to Grace's? My head-on collision wasn't with a car, but rather with a major biotechnology company that bought out a much smaller company, Research Genetics, I had hired and was collaborating with to make antibodies to the protein that was the focus of my research. One morning the employees arrived at work to face security guards who escorted them to their offices to remove personal belongings and escorted them back out. A couple of weeks later I received email notification of the buyout and was informed that the animals being immunized, the protein fragments that my lab had worked to purify that were being used to generate the immune response, and the various anti-sera were on a truck transporting them from the east coast to the San Fransisco Bay Area where the biotechnology company was located. It was months before I heard from the biotech company again. Obviously, the immunization protocol was not being maintained during that time… be continued, possibly with the occasional commercial break like my last post. Links and credits for this post will be added tomorrow when I have access to my laptop and wireless... It's not easy being homeless!

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