Continuation from “>part 1 of the interview.
Florian Rustler: You just mentioned Western cultures and the understanding we have. What would be the opposite of that? Would it be Eastern cultures or Buddhist influenced cultures?
Franca Leeson: No. Thank you for picking it up. We are used to talk about “Western culture” and we mean many different things when we say it. “Western culture” can mean a culture that is based on European values, knowledge and Greek philosophy and the so-called Enlightenment.
Japan with the warrior cast, Buddhism and Shinto gets lumped in with China and other Asian countries as “Eastern”, and they are entirely different cultures, but there is a tendency to lump them together.
There is a very good reason to lump Germany and the United States: many Germans were part of the founding of the United States. There is less reason, however, to lump China and Japan except for Zen/Chan other specific cultural exchanges. So these categories “Western” and “Eastern” are very deceiving.
When I spoke about “Western culture” I meant the so-called “global culture“, which is a culture that is actually quite pervasive in Japan, in China and all over the world. We can’t really talk about East and West anymore.
FR: Can we say that meditation is a tool that originated from Eastern philosophy?
FL: No. Meditation is present in many different cultures. Meditation also exists as a Christian practice. Ironically, Christian meditation is less accessible to urban westerners than meditation techniques developed in the context of Eastern philosophies.
FR: One thing I am personally very interested in is the connection between “Eastern” philosophies like for example Daoism and creativity. We mentioned that meditation is one tool that can be used for creativity. Are there any other tools you are aware of from philosophies like Daoism that can be used as a tool, similar to thinking tools, that we could use for a CPS session?
FL: I think one thing that is important to recognize is that the way our body, our brain and our emotional systems work is very similar from culture to culture. We are all working with the same raw material: the human body, including the brain. At the moment when we hear meditation, we immediately associate it with Buddhism, because Buddhism has great public relations. So people tend to think meditation is Buddhist, but of course it is not exclusively so. I have already mentioned Christianity, you have mentioned Daoism.
We need to recognize that, just because something is associated with one culture, doesn’t mean that it is exclusive to that culture. It does not even mean that it came from that culture. Things arise all over.
So creativity and meditation, these do not belong to one culture. It may be that in any given time their expression in one culture gets a big face in the world, but that can be very deceiving on two accounts: that culture is not necessarily the only source of it and that culture is not the only place it is practiced.
The other thing that is important to recognize is that diversity is really important. That is why the Silk Road had such a powerful influence on world history and on the history of ideas. We are who we are today because different cultures came together and exchanged ideas and integrated them into one another and that is in fact the essence of creativity.
One more thing that is important when it come to creativity and meditation is that the aim of Buddhist meditation is to “wake up”. The aim of creativity and innovation is to create new ways of doing things. They are companions that often go into the same directions on the same road, but not always. Sometimes the roads diverge, and it is important to remember that.[:]Disclaimer: Meine Teilnahme an der CREA Konferenz wurde gefördert durch das Grundtvig Programm für lebenslanges Lernen der Europäischen Union.
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