[Note: This is a slightly revised version of a previous post with the same title.]

The assertion that a religious experience is incommensurate with a “regular’ experience is common to believers of many persuasions. To be incommensurate is to be on a different level altogether. When two things are incommensurate, they don’t share a common measure and so cannot be compared. The rules that apply to one side are irrelevant to the other.

The conviction of incommensurability protects beliefs from critical scrutiny to the extent that these beliefs are thought to stem from religious experience. Rules of logic and evidence cannot disprove truths that are revealed through such experience. What appears to be false or inconsistent is only so to those who are unable to detect the deeper, revealed truths.

As Keith Yandell puts it in The Epistemology of Religious Experience (Cambridge University Press, 1994):

“…when doctrines appear to be refuted, the temptation to appeal to incommensurability, to ineffability, to self-authentication, to doctrines as mere pointers or ladder steps, apparently is irresistible.” p 321 Although the incommensurability of religious experience may lead believers to devalue the life and experience of nonbelievers, ideological factors are often involved in the degree to which a religious community rejects the life and values of those outside the community.”

Ok, now I’m switching from considering mindfulness as a religious movement to considering mindfulness as an ideology. As defined in a previous entry, “ideology” is “a relatively comprehensive and coherent set of convictions (a “vision”) about how humans and the world works, which is powerful enough to influence one’s thinking, feelings, evaluations, and actions.”

According to Teun A. Van Dijk in Politics, Ideology and Discourse – an entry in the Elsevier Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2005) – the following “ideological square” has been found to be pervasive in ideological discourse:

  • Emphasize Our good things
  • Emphasize Their bad things
  • De-emphasize Our bad things
  • De-e mphasize Their good things

So, how well does mindfulness ideology fit the specifications of an ideological square? To a tee.