Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 3

Amid the women’s world of clothes to wash, food to cook, Nikki's poems voice a recurrent theme of loneliness. With chores that don’t end, and relationships that do end, the celebration of strength and the saving grace of family and community do not save us from getting lonely, too, sometimes.


there is a hunger
often associated with pain
that you feel
when you look at someone
you used to love and enjoyed
loving and want
to love again
though you know you can’t
that gnaws at you
steadily as a mosquito
some michigan summer
churning his wings
through your window screen
because the real world
made up of baby clothes to be washed
food to be cooked
lullabies to be sung
smiles to be plaited
ribbons to be bowed
coffee to be drunk
books to be read
tears to be cried
loneliness to be borne
says you are a strong woman
and anyway he never thought you’d really miss him
* * * 

In “Boxes,” Giovanni expresses fatigue with the boxes of race and gender – and with the box of being strong, and even with the box of being poet. She writes, she says, because she has to. This reminds me to advice that is given to young people thinking about a career in the arts. Don’t do it unless you have to, someone might tell them. Indeed, twenty years ago when I was considering becoming a minister, I went to see my minister to ask whether she thought I should – and that’s what she said: Don’t do it unless you have to.

Well, I had to. Discernment of an inner compulsion validates a calling. But sometimes it’s just a box that we’re tired of. Sometimes we wish we didn’t have to.


i am in a box
on a tight string
subject to pop
without notice

everybody says how strong
i am

only black women
and white men
are truly free
they say

it’s not difficult to see
how stupid they are

i would not reject
my strength
though its source
is not choice
but responsibility

i would not reject my light
though my wrinkles are also illuminated

something within demands
or words
if action is not possible

i am tired
of being boxed
muhammad ali must surely be pleased
that leon spinks relieved him

most of the time
i can’t breathe
i smoke too much
to cover my fears
sometimes i pick
my nose to avoid
the breath i need

i do also do the same
injustice to my poems

i write because
i have to
* * *

The paradox is, the very boxes that make one tired are also the ones that give us identity. In the case of a black woman, it may be a prison in some ways. But she is determined to make that prison an identity to embrace and celebrate. It’s a delicate line to walk, a constant paradox to negotiate: To see clearly the wrong of racism and sexism, to be adamant and militant about overthrowing it – while at the same time honoring and celebrating the identity that racism and sexism created.

Poem (for Nina)

we are all imprisoned in the castle of our skins
and some of us have said so be it
if i am in jail my castle shall become
my rendezvous
my courtyard will bloom with hyacinths and jack-in-the-pulpits
my moat will not restrict me but will be filled
with dolphins sitting on lily pads and sea horses ridden by starfish
goldfish will make love
to Black mollies and color my world Black Gold
the vines entwining my windows will grow butterflies
and yellow jackets will buzz me to sleep
the dwarfs imprisoned will not become my clowns
for me to scorn but my dolls for me to praise and fuss
with and give tea parties to
my gnomes will spin cloth of spider web silkness
my wounded chocolate soldiers will sit in evening coolness
or stand gloriously at attention during that midnight sun
for I would have no need of day patrol
if I am imprisoned in my skin let it be a dark world
with deep bass walking a witch doctor to me for spiritual
let my world be defined by my skin and the skin of my people
for we spirit to spirit will embrace
this world
* * *

Nikki Giovanni is a professor of English at Virginia Tech, as I mentioned. As of 2007, she’d been on the faculty there for 20 years. A student in one of her poetry classes was Seung-Hui Cho. She found him overtly menacing and mean. She went to her department chair to have him taken out of her class. She said she’d resign rather than keep teaching a class with him in it. Then in April that year: the Virginia Tech shooting. When she first heard of the shooting, Giovanni immediately suspected Cho – which turned out to be correct.

Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people on April 16, 2007. The Virginia Tech president asked Giovanni to speak at a campus convocation the next day. The chant poem she delivered to close the ceremony spoke to the horror, and also contextualized it. As she has done her whole long writing career, she faced tragedy frankly and found within it, identity and hope.

We Are Virginia Tech
We are Virginia Tech.
We are sad today, and we will be sad for quite a while.
We are not moving on, we are embracing our mourning.
We are Virginia Tech.
We are strong enough to stand tall tearlessly, we are brave enough to bend to cry, and
we are sad enough to know that we must laugh again.
We are Virginia Tech.
We do not understand this tragedy.
We know we did nothing to deserve it, but neither does a child in Africa dying of AIDS,
neither do the invisible children walking the night away to avoid being captured by the rogue army,
neither does the baby elephant watching his community being devastated for ivory,
neither does the Mexican child looking for fresh water, neither does the Appalachian infant killed in the middle of the night in his crib in the home his father built with his own hands being run over by a boulder because the land was destabilized.
No one deserves a tragedy.
We are Virginia Tech.
The Hokie Nation embraces our own and reaches out with open heart and hands to those who offer their hearts and minds.
We are strong, and brave, and innocent, and unafraid.
We are better than we think and not quite what we want to be.
We are alive to the imaginations and the possibilities.
We will continue to invent the future through our blood and tears and through all our sadness.
We are the Hokies.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
We are Virginia Tech.
* * *

Fourteen years earlier, in 1993, Giovanni had also evoked hope amid tragedy – the tragedy of slavery and the ongoing oppression of racism – when she spoke at the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the Slave Memorial at Mount Vernon. A new day is always beginning. 

But Since You Finally Asked
No one asked us -- what we thought of Jamestown -- in 1619 -- they didn’t even say -- ”Welcome” -- ”You’re Home” -- or even a pitiful -- ”I’m sorry -- but we just can’t make it -- without you” -- No -- No one said a word -- They just snatched our drums -- separated us by language and gender -- and put us on blocks -- where our beauty -- like our dignity -- was ignored.

No one said a word -- in 1776 -- to us about Freedom -- The rebels wouldn’t pretend -- the British lied -- We kept to a space -- where we owned our souls -- since we understood -- another century would pass -- before we owned our bodies -- But we raised our voices -- in a mighty cry -- to the Heavens above -- for the strength to endure.

No one says -- ”What I like about your people” -- then ticks off the wonder of the wonderful things -- we’ve given -- Our song to God, Our strength to the Earth -- our unfailing belief in forgiveness -- I know what I like about us -- is that we let no one turn us around -- not then -- not now -- we plant our feet -- on higher ground -- I like who we were -- and who we are -- and since someone has asked -- let me say; I am proud to be a Black American -- I am proud that my people laboured honestly -- with forbearance and dignity -- I am proud that we believe -- as no other people do -- that all are equal in His sight -- We didn’t write a constitution -- we live one -- We didn’t say “We the People” -- we are one -- We didn’t have to add -- as an after-thought -- ”Under God” -- We turn our faces to the rising sun -- knowing -- a New Day -- is always – beginning
* * *
See also
Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 1
Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 2


Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 2

Nikki Giovanni's celebration of black women was accompanied by a celebration of black men. “Beautiful Black Men” appeared in her second book, Black Judgment. The second came out in in 1968, just a few months after her first book, Black Feeling Black Talk, and, like the first, the second was self-published. "Beautiful Black Men" mentions activities which we might judge unsavory -- but the poem reminds us that these activities, too, are carried out by human beings manifesting their beauty in all that they are and do.

Beautiful Black Men
(With compliments and apologies to all not mentioned by name)

i wanta say just gotta say something
bout those beautiful beautiful beautiful outasight
black men
with they afros
walking down the street
is the same ol danger
but a brand new pleasure

sitting on stoops, in bars, going to offices
running numbers, watching for their whores
preaching in churches, driving their hogs
walking their dogs, winking at me
in their fire red, lime green, burnt orange
royal blue tight tight pants that hug
what i like to hug

jerry butler, wilson pickett, the impressions
temptations, mighty mighty sly
don't have to do anything but walk
on stage
and i scream and stamp and shout
see new breed men in breed alls
dashiki suits with shirts that match
the lining that compliments the ties
that smile at the sandals
where dirty toes peek at me
and i scream and stamp and shout
for more beautiful beautiful beautiful
black men with outasight afros
* * *
Along with the celebrations of womanhood -- and manhood -- Nikki's poetry includes frank indictments of the way that gender is constructed: the demands placed on women, the enforced domesticity, and the double-standards used to judge and dismiss women’s poetry – the assumption that anything a person of color says must necessarily be unimportant. "A Poem Off Center" appeared in Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day (1978).

A Poem Off Center

how do poets write
so many poems
my poems get decimated
in the dishes the laundry
my sister is having another crisis
the bed has to be made
there is a blizzard on the way go to the grocery store
did you go to the cleaners
then a fuse blows
a fuse always has to blow
the women soon find themselves
talking either to babies or about them
no matter how careful we are
we end up giving tips
on the latest new improved cleaner
and the lotion that will take the smell away

if you write a political poem
you’re anti semitic
if you write a domestic poem
you’re foolish
if you write a happy poem
you’re unserious
if you write a love poem
you’re maudlin
of course the only real poem
to write
is the go to hell writing establishment poem
but the readers never know who
you’re talking about which brings us back
to point one

i feel i think sorry for the women
they have no place to go
it’s the same old story blacks
hear all the time
if it’s serious a white man
would do it
when it’s serious
he will
everything from writing a
to sweeping the streets
to cooking the food
as long as his family doesn’t
eat it

it’s a little off center
this life we’re leading
maybe i shouldn’t feel sorry
for myself
but the more i understand
the more i do
* * *
Born in 1943, Nikki Giovanni celebrated her 75th birthday a couple months ago, on June 7. Through her late-20s, 1968 through 1972, poems were pouring out of her. Those were the years that saw publication of four books: Black Feeling Black Talk (1968), Black Judgment (1968), Re: Creation (1970), and My House (1972). She gained fame those years as a foremost author in the Black Arts Movement, offering a strong and militant voice for Black Liberation. She’s been called the Poet of the Black Revolution.

I mentioned that Giovanni speaks with both righteous anger and tender joy. In “The Great Pax Whitie” -- from Black Judgment (1968) -- the anger at America’s persistent and destructive racism is in full voice. The title evokes the “Pax Romana” – the Roman Peace, during which areas under Roman control were taxed and subject to Roman military control. There was a kind of peace, but no independence, no liberty. It was peace through suppression and oppression. The White empire parallels in that regard the Roman Empire. 

The Great Pax Whitie
In the beginning was the word
And the word was
And the word was nigger
And the word was death to all niggers
And the word was death to all life
Andthe word was death to all
peace be still

The genesis was life
The genesis was death
In the genesis of death
Was the genesis of war
be still peace be still

In the name of peace
They waged the wars
ain’t they got no shame

In the name of peace
Lot’s wife is now a product of the Morton company
nah, they ain’t got no shame

Noah packing his wife and kiddies up for a holiday
row row row your boat
But why’d you leave the unicorns, noah
Huh? why’d you leave them
While our Black Madonna stood there
Eighteen feet high holding Him in her arms
Listening to the rumblings of peace
be still be still

He wanted to know
And peter only asked who is that dude?
Who is that Black dude?
Looks like a troublemaker to me
And the foundations of the mighty mighty
Ro Man Cat holic church were laid

hallelujah Jesus
nah, they ain’t got no shame

Cause they killed the Carthaginians
in the great appian way
And they killed the Moors
“to civilize a nation”
And they just killed the earth
And blew out the sun
In the name of a god
Whose genesis was white
And war wooed god
And america was born
Where war became peace
And genocide patriotism
And honor is a happy slave
cause all god’s chillun need rhythm
And glory hallelujah why can’t peace
be still

The great emancipator was a bigot
ain’t they got no shame
And making the world safe for democracy
Were twenty millon slaves
nah, they ain’t got no shame

And they barbecued six million
To raise the price of beef
And crossed the 38th parallel
To control the price of rice
ain’t we never gonna see the light

And champagne was shipped out of the East
While kosher pork was introduced
To Africa
Only the torch can show the way

In the beginning was the deed
And the deed was death

And the honkies are getting confused
peace be still

So the great white prince
Was shot like a nigger in texas
And our Black shining prince was murdered
like that thug in his cathedral
While our nigger in memphis
was shot like their prince in dallas
And my lord
ain’t we never gonna see the light
The rumblings of this peace must be stilled
be stilled be still

ahh Black people
ain’t we got no pride?
* * *
Nikki Giovanni never married. She is the mother of one child, Thomas Watson Giovanni, born in 1969, which probably had something to do with the fact that she began writing children’s literature in the 1970s. Aside from organizing and parenting and writing, Nikki Giovanni is an English professor. She’s taught at Queens College, Rutgers, and Ohio State. For the last 30 years, since 1987, she’s taught at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia.

She’s expressed the anger of the nation’s injustices, as we’ve seen. Giovanni’s poems can also pause to take delight in simple pleasures. And those pleasures, in turn, become a metaphor for the affirming and nurturing power of community and family and love. "Winter Poem" appeared in My House (1972)

Winter Poem
once a snowflake fell
on my brow and i loved
it so much and i kissed
it and it was happy and called its cousins
and brothers and a web
of snow engulfed me then
i reached to love them all
and i squeezed them and they became
a spring rain and i stood perfectly
still and was a flower
* * *
Yet that web that waters us into bloom can then turn around and constrain. Women are expected to fill positions of service and support – passively waiting for a fulfillment that never comes. "All I Gotta Do" is from Re: Creation (1970).

All I Gotta Do

all i gotta do
is sit and wait
sit and wait
and it's gonna find
all i gotta do
is sit and wait
if i can learn how

what i need to do
is sit and wait
cause i'm a woman
sit and wait
what i gotta do
is sit and wait
cause i'm a woman
it'll find me

you get yours
and i'll get mine
if i learn
to sit and wait
you got yours
i want mine
and i'm gonna get it
cause i gotta get it
cause i need to get it
if i learn how

thought about calling
for it on the phone
asked for a delivery
but they didn't have it
thought about going
to the store to get it
walked to the corner
but they didn't have it

called your name
in my sleep
sitting and waiting
thought you would awake me
called your name
lying in my bed
but you didn't have it
offered to go get it
but you didn't have it
so i'm sitting

all i know
is sitting and waiting
waiting and sitting
cause i'm a woman
all i know
is sitting and waiting
cause i gotta wait
wait for it to find
* * *
See also:
Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 1
Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 3


Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 1

To honor the death of Aretha Franklin last week, and also honor Nikki Giovanni (very much still alive), let's start with Nikki's "Poem for Aretha"

Poem for Aretha
Cause nobody deals with Aretha—a mother with four children—
having to hit the road
they always say "after she comes
home" but nobody ever says what it's like
to get on a plane for a three week tour
the elation of the first couple of audiences the good
feeling of exchange the running on the high
you get from singing good
and loud and long telling the world
what's on your mind.

Then comes the eighth show on the sixth day the beginning
to smell like the plane or bus the if-you-forget-your-toothbrush
the strangers
pulling at you cause they love you but you having no love
to give back
the singing the same songs night after night day after day
and if you read the gossip columns the rumors that your husband
is only after your fame
the wondering if your children will be glad to see you and maybe
the not caring if they are
The scheming to get
out of just one show and go just one place where some doe-doe-dupaduke
won't say "just sing one song, please!".

Nobody mentions how it feels to become a freak
because you have talent and how
no one gives a damn how you feel
but only cares that Aretha Franklin is here like maybe that'll stop
chickens from frying
eggs from being laid
crackers from hating

and if you say you're lonely or scared or tired how they always
just say "oh come off it" or "did you see
how they loved you did you see, huh, did you?"
which most likely has nothing to do with you anyway
and I'm not saying Aretha shouldn't have talent and I'm certainly
not saying she should quit
singing but as much as I love her I'd vote "yes" to her
doing four concerts a year and staying home or doing whatever
she wants and making records cause it's a shame
the way we're killing her.
We eat up artists like there's going to be a famine at the end
of those three minutes when there are in fact an abundance
of talents just waiting let's put some
of the giants away for a while and deal with them like they have
a life to lead.

Aretha doesn't have to relive Billi Holiday's life doesn't have
to relive Dinah Washington's death but who will
stop the pattern?

She's more important than her music—if they must be separated—
and they should be separated when she has to pass out before
anyone recognizes she needs
a rest and I say I need Aretha's music
she is undoubtedly the one person who put everyone on notice.
She revived Johnny Ace and remembered Lil Green. Aretha sings
"I say a little prayer" and Dionne doesn't
want to hear it anymore
Aretha sings "money won't change you"
but James Brown can't sing "respect" the advent
of Aretha pulled Ray Charles from marlboro country
and back into
the blues made Nancy Wilson
try one more time forced
Dionne to make a choice (she opted for the movies)
and Diana Ross had to get an afro wig pushed every
Black singer into his Blackness and negro entertainers
into negroness you couldn't jive
when she said "you make me feel" the Blazers
had to reply "gotta let a man be/a man"
Aretha said "when my soul was in the lost and found/you came
along to claim it" and Joplin said "maybe"
there has been no musician whom her very presence hasn't
affected when Humphrey wanted her to campaign for him she said
"woeman's only hueman"
and he pressured James Brown
they removed Otis Redding cause the combination was too strong the Impressions had to say "lord have mercy/we're moving on up"
the Black songs started coming from the singers on stage and the dancers
in the streets
Aretha was the riot was the leader if she had said "come
let's do it" it would have been done
temptations say why don't we think about it
think about it
think about it
Poetry is this thing – this thing you just gotta do. You gotta have poetry in your life.

Poetry gives us new metaphors, but metaphors ossify. When a metaphor is used so often and becomes so common that it becomes literal, we say it has ossified. "Skyscraper" is an ossified metaphor. The first person to call a tall building a skyscraper was evoking images of the sky itself being scraped, was imparting motion – the movement of scraping – to a stationary building. "Riverbed" and "spam" (to refer to unwanted email) have become ossified metaphors. When they were fresh, they stretched our associations, stretched our minds, stretched our world. But repeated use ossifies the metaphor – makes the delightful warp of a new way of seeing things into the rut of the literal.

A life of meaning is a life that continually takes in and makes new meaning. There is no such thing as understanding yourself, understanding the world, understanding anything -- apart from the processes of adding new understandings. Without the always ongoing making and taking in new ways to see things there is no seeing at all. That’s why I say you gotta do poetry – so your life doesn’t ossify.

And when I say “do poetry,” I mean four things: Read poems, listen to poems, write poems, and speak poems.

Read ‘em and write ‘em and hear ‘em and say ‘em.

I write poems – generally short verses for which I use a Zen koan as a prompt. I’ve been at this for years, and I don’t know what a poem is. The mysteriousness of the very idea of some string of words constituting a poem is not clearing up the more I do it. The mystery, instead, is deepening.

I remember, when I was a young and literal-minded philosophy professor, a conversation I had once with a colleague professor from the English department who was a poet. He was struggling with this question of the nature of poems. I said, “word wrap.”

He said, “Huh?”

I said, “Word wrap. If the words wrap to the next line only because of the margin with no relation to the text meaning, and you only press return at the end of a paragraph, then it’s prose. If the line breaks matter – if there is no need for word wrap because the lines are shorter and part of the meaning is conveyed by the line ending – then it’s a poem.”

I was being glib. I was treating line breaks as if they were the end of the matter, when they are only the beginning.

Why do we have this way of writing that pays attention to line breaks? I think it’s because the line breaks give the thing rhythm, and the rhythm signals the intensity of the language. It’s a mystery how language can be intense that way – and in that intensity, show us the world new. Somehow, it does.

At Community UU, we have a poetry celebration service every August. This is the sixth annual. The first celebrated the Beat poets collectively. The second singled out Jack Kerouac. The third, Mary Oliver; the fourth, Rumi; and the fifth, last year, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Today we celebrate Nikki Giovanni.

In 1967, at age 23, she graduated from Fisk University, the HBCU (Historically Black College or University) in Nashville. I showed up at Fisk twenty-five years later, in 1992, as assistant professor of philosophy. As a teacher there, I learned as much as I taught, and, Nikki, as a student there, I imagine, taught as much as she learned.

Not that Fisk was eager to learn what Nikki had to teach. It is a place that likes decorum. Fisk thought rabble was for distancing oneself from and rising above. Nikki thought rabble was for rousing. She had contempt for Fisk’s silly rules. Her run-ins with the Dean of Women led to expulsion. A few years later, with a new Dean, she re-enrolled.

1968: the year she turned 25, a year after graduating, her first book of poems, Black Feeling, Black Talk, came out. Because she feared rejection of publishers, she didn’t submit it to any. Instead, she borrowed money from family and friends to print it herself, and she distributed it herself. 2,000 copies were sold during its first year – extraordinary for a privately printed and privately distributed book of poetry.

I love the way that Nikki's high-minded ideals of art, and revolution and justice, and black liberation interweave with her delight in romance, in intimate relationship. She brings the force of righteous anger, but turn the page to find the tender joy of romantic love. Her affirmations of stunning power and strength interweave with the vulnerability of relationship. Political tension and sexual tension equally command her attention.

You see that on the first page of that first book. It’s a poem about going to a Conference of Unity and Art in Detroit in May, 1967. She met H Rap Brown at that conference, and they hit it off.

Detroit Conference of Unity and Art
(for HRB)
We went there to confer
On the possibility of
And the inevitability of

We talked about
Black leaders
And Black Love

We talked about
And Black men
No doubt many important
Were passed
As we climbed Malcolm’s ladder

But the most
Valid of them
All was that
Rap chose me.
You see? For Nikki, the personal and the political are not separate.

Nikki Giovanni celebrated women – black women in particular. It was an antidote to the slurs so often cast upon them, at the intersection of racial hatred and misogynist patriarchy. Perhaps her most audacious celebration of black women -- and her most popular poem -- was "Ego Tripping," which appeared in the 1970 volume, Re-Creation.

Ego Tripping 
(there may be a reason why)
I was born in the congo
I walked to the fertile crescent and built
the sphinx
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star
that only glows every one hundred years falls
into the center giving divine perfect light
I am bad

I sat on the throne
drinking nectar with allah
I got hot and sent an ice age to europe
to cool my thirst
My oldest daughter is nefertiti
the tears from my birth pains
created the nile
I am a beautiful woman

I gazed on the forest and burned
out the sahara desert
with a packet of goat’s meat
and a change of clothes
I crossed it in two hours
I am a gazelle so swift
so swift you can’t catch me

For a birthday present when he was three
I gave my son hannibal an elephant
He gave me rome for mother’s day
My strength flows ever on

My son noah built new/ark and
I stood proudly at the helm
as we sailed on a soft summer day
I turned myself into myself and was
men intone my loving name
All praises All praises
I am the one who would save

I sowed diamonds in my back yard
My bowels deliver uranium
the filings from my fingernails are
semi-precious jewels
On a trip north
I caught a cold and blew
My nose giving oil to the arab world
I am so hip even my errors are correct
I sailed west to reach east and had to round off
the earth as I went
The hair from my head thinned and gold was laid
across three continents

I am so perfect so divine so ethereal so surreal
I cannot be comprehended
except by my permission

I mean -- I -- can fly
like a bird in the sky.
* * *
This is part 1 of 3 of "Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni"
See also
Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 2
Poetry Celebration: Nikki Giovanni, part 3


If You Want Truth, Build Trust

Truth, Who Needs It? part 3

The social fabric is unraveling amid the disintegration of trust. A significant part of why this is happening is: no more common enemy.

A group of people is defined by a shared enemy. The human survival strategy depends on ultrasociality, belongingness, group cohesion. The strategy evolved in a context of enemies. Violent conflict between hunter-gatherer tribes was a recurring fact of life, and it was one of the drivers of our ultrasociability: the tribe that was most cohesive, that could best cooperate together was better able to defeat the tribe that wasn’t. Tribes not so good at the seamless merging of minds for collective projects – including collective defense – got wiped out.

Ten million years or so ago there were hundreds of hominid (great ape) species. Now there are just five hominid species left: humans, chimps, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans. (Technically, there are eight because taxonomists now identify three different species of orangutan and two different species of gorilla.) And the other four aren't really holding their own. Without specific protections, neither, chimps, bonobos, gorillas, nor orangutans would last long. We already wiped out all those other hominid species. We wiped them out by outcompeting them – by winning the arms race for primate ultrasociability.

And always part of the way our belongingness and togetherness functioned was in identifying and working together against enemies.

The trust level of Americans for other Americans was never higher than in World War II. We loved our fellow Americans, were ready to die for each other, trusted our neighbors, and trusted our institutions. We had to – to fight against our common enemy. As the sense of a common enemy has slowly receded, and the Soviet Union collapsed, we gradually turned our belongingness and trust away from the nation as a whole and more toward groups within the nation that could identify other groups as enemies.

We have brains that are oriented toward threat – and when there is no obvious external threat, we start looking for the less obvious ones. So: political polarization results. The network of trust fragmented into smaller groupings. The finger is often pointed at social media, and I’d say, sure, social media helped facilitate the formations of new circles of trust that distrusted other circles. But it’s a process that was in motion anyway. The fundamentalist community, for instance, hasn't trusted the scientific community or the mainstream media since the Scopes trial in 1925 (see Michael Gerson's insightful analysis HERE).

Myself, I've never been big on patriotism. It feels weird to find myself bemoaning that shared national identity no longer binds us together in trust. It's true that I can be a misty romantic about American ideals, but I’m also keenly aware of how truly awful my country has been to indigenous people, to enslaved Africans and their descendants, to the Japanese we put in internment camps, and to immigrants.

I’ve always wanted to urge a loyalty that was not defined by an enemy, a loyalty not to a smaller group within America, but a loyalty to larger circles: all humans, all mammals, all vertebrates, all life, all things -- "mountains and rivers and the great wide earth; the sun and the moon and the stars." I would hope that my fellow Americans, if they can't manage to identify more expansively, would at least not identify more narrowly. Yet that's what's happening.

I know I’m not alone. This is the Unitarian Universalist sensibility I was raised in. We aren’t alone, but we are in the minority.

Our role in the distressing catastrophe we see unfolding around us is, first, to see it clearly. It’s about trust, and the human need to trust – and how that so often and so easily is bound to a strategy of distrust -- that trusting this group goes with distrusting certain others.

Second, keep looking for ways to build connection, build bridges, build trust everywhere. Keep looking. (If you're in White Plains, one place to look is HERE. Across the nation, a place to look is HERE.)

And, third, is there anything we can do about those cognitive biases? Not so much. Daniel Kahneman, at age 84, still holds an appointment at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He’s been studying and writing about our cognitive biases for a long time. He is very pessimistic about any prospect for curing or much mitigating our cognitive biases. We have a quick-thinking part of our brain that jumps to conclusions and makes a lot of mistakes, but we really need it. We couldn’t function if we used only the slow, careful analytic capacities of our brain.

There isn't much we can do about this, but let us do what little can be done. Our best bet is actually that bias I started off with: the tendency to spot errors in other people’s thought while oblivious to our own. We can use that against ourselves – or, rather, FOR ourselves. It means other people can spot our errors more readily than we can. We will never be able to see the log in our own eye very well, but we see the speck in other people's eyes -- which means they can see -- and, if we let them, they can show us -- the log in our own eye.

As Daniel Kahneman says, the most effective check is from the outside. Our cognitive biases are part of our ultrasociability, and we can use our ultrasociability to counter them. Individually, we can’t train them out of ourselves, but groups can counter-act them.

That’s a spiritual message: we need each other. We are better together. In community, we come into our wholeness. Our emotional wholeness, and spiritual wholeness, and even our cognitive wholeness is in relationship.

The simple fact of being in a group gives you other perspectives that check your own. Beyond the automatic advantages, groups working together can train themselves in some specific techniques that research has found improve their effectiveness. One technique is creating and following checklists of factors to make sure not to skip over. Another technique is something called a “premortem,” which can help mitigate optimism bias. To do a "premortem," require members of the group “to imagine that a project has gone very, very badly and write a sentence or two describing how that happened” (Yagoda)

Individually, by yourself, you will never do this. You just won’t. But a group that formalizes premortems as part of its process, will do it. And it helps. Writing out how things might go awry forces the quick, intuitive brain to step back and let the slow, plodding, careful brain work things through. Moreover, sharing such exercises is a group-bonding experience -- it enhances trust.

This is the core work before us: to build trust. If you want more truth, work to build trust.


These are the final words at the end of Robert Aitken's book, Zen Master Raven:
Raven took his perch on the Assembly Oak and addressed a special meeting of the Tallspruce community, saying, "It's time for me to be moving on."
Porcupine asked, "Where will you be going?"
Raven said, "Where cedar roots stand bare in the creek."
A hush fell over the circle. Grouse could be heard sniffling. At last Porcupine asked, "Do you have any last words for us?"
Raven said, "Trust."
* * *
This is part 3 of 3 of "Truth, Who Needs It?"
See also
Part 1: Hooray for Cognitive Bias
Part 2: When Truth Stopped Mattering


When Truth Stopped Mattering

Truth, Who Needs It? part 2

Human brains collaborate so well that we lose track of where our understanding ends and others begins. We divide cognitive labor so smoothly and seamlessly that there’s often no sharp boundary between one person’s ideas and those of other members of the group. We think we know more than we do because we treat knowledge in the minds of others as if it were our own. This borderlessness is crucial to the way we make progress. In developing new technologies, incomplete understanding is empowering.

In the course of collaboration, we reason with one another – we make arguments, drawing on agreed-upon evidence and linking (interpreting) that evidence to a conclusion. We do this in order to persuade, and the value of persuasion is in generating agreement. For a species whose survival strategy depends on ultrasociality, agreement is what matters, not truth. The group needs to share a basic representation of things so that, on the one hand, members feel bonded together, and, on the other hand, cognitive labor can be effectively divided based on a shared grounding. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s what allows us to collaborate so extensively, to join together into something larger than we can be separately – something much smarter and much more creative.

So that’s the celebration. Yay for us! Cognitive biases and all, there’s a lot to love about being who we are.

The current situation, though, is distressing. Our relationship to truth has always been a relationship of convenience, but in recent years some things have shifted. In the 2012 presidential election, journalists were reporting that candidates running for office were lying in a new way. They’ve always fudged a bit, but, as journalist Kevin Drum wrote in 2012:
“It’s not worse than past attacks, but it is different. In the past, you felt that maybe campaigns were at least a little bit embarrassed about this kind of thing. They’d blame it on someone else. They’d try to produce some lame defense. They’d haul out some fake white paper to give themselves cover. They’d do something. [But now we’re seeing campaigns that] just [don’t] seem to care. If it works, they use it. It’s like the campaign is being run by cyborgs.” (Mother Jones, 2012 Aug 29)
Another journalist in 2012, David Roberts, described a campaign as
“not contesting the truth value of its assertions so much as contesting whether truth value itself is relevant....Political campaigns have always lied and stretched the truth, but when caught in a lie, would typically defend themselves (claim it was actually true), retract, or at the very least stop repeating the lie. Either way, the presumption was that truth-telling had some moral force; one ought to tell the truth, even if that commandment was often honored in the breach. What’s creepy about [what we’re now seeing is campaigns that] don’t do any of those things. They don’t deny, they don’t stop, they just don’t care at all. What they’ve realized is that, given today’s hyper-polarization and fragmented media, there’s no practical risk to lying. It doesn’t hurt them, in terms of getting votes, so why shouldn’t they do it?” (Grist, 2012 August)
That was 2012. Then came the 2016 elections. And the two years since then. Of course this is distressing. Our world has turned crazy. We can’t blame politicians for doing what gets them elected – if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be our politicians. It’s the fact that so many of our neighbors keep voting for politicians who so flagrantly and so utterly unconcernedly lie. Used to be a politician got defensive when accused of saying something false. Now they don’t even care to get defensive. They just carry on confidently repeating the falsehood. Our country – this land that we love – re-elects them. No wonder we are disoriented and distressed and feel lost.

Some beliefs are easy to change. I might feel sure the Phillies won the '79 World Series, but you say it was the Pirates. We look it up. You were right, I was wrong, I change my belief. Easy. It's even easier if my wrong belief was, in some sense, "close" to true. If I can say, "Oh, it was the next year, 1980, that the Phillies won it," or "I knew it was one of those Pennsylvania teams," then my prior conviction is more easily reconciled to, and more willing to accept, conflicting information.

Other beliefs are harder to change. If a weak belief doesn’t square with new information, I throw out the belief. But if a strong belief doesn’t square with new information, I throw out the information.

The strong beliefs -- the ones that are hard to change -- are the ones that become a part of our group identity. Belonging is such a powerful need for us. The need drives us to collaborate and engage together in fantastically complicated joint projects. The same need can make disregard evidence to maintain group solidarity and identity.

Consider the raw-milk movement.Some folks are saying raw milk is good for you. If this catches on, it could eliminate the public health gains of more than a century of pasteurization. The CDC says raw milk is one of the world’s most dangerous food products. By and large the general public is open to facts on this.

In contrast, for some of the anti-vaccine people, or the climate-change deniers, group loyalty has become a big factor. They are identified with “their people,” and that’s who they trust -- not the carefully examined data, which they discount. Their position on the issue has become integral to their identity.

Now, the two examples I just mentioned -- the anti-vaccine and the climate-change-denial positions – are generally not popular positions among UUs. But we have to keep reminding ourselves: we all do this. We all have some beliefs that are at the center of our sense of who we are. None of us is going to be open to evidence that challenges those beliefs.

The question of truth is the question of trust. Who will you trust? Do you find the New York Times and Washington Post are generally fairly reliable with occasional mistakes and a few blind spots, or, instead, are you more trusting of Fox News? Tell me who you trust, and I've got a pretty good idea of what you think is true.

If you have trust in some source that occasionally counteracts the direction of your confirmation bias, then there's a chance your views might evolve. Without trust in any source that might challenge our prejudices, we dismiss evidence that doesn't confirm them. Our era seems to be "post-truth" because the power of trust -- i.e., the general willingness to trust some source that occasionally disconfirms our prejudices -- has diminished.

Truth is determined by trust, and trust is determined by belongingness – not intelligence, not rationality.

When trust weakens, our norms weaken. Norms are grounded on trust. David Roberts wrote:
“One effect of the radicalization of the right over the last few decades has been the discovery of just how much our politics is held together by norms rather than rules. There’s no rule you can’t filibuster every bill in the Senate by default; there’s no rule you can’t interrupt a president’s State of the Union; there’s no rule you can’t hold the routine debt-ceiling vote hostage. It simply wasn’t done. But if you shrug off the norm and do it anyway, there’s nothing to stop you.” (Grist)
Norms are a product of and expression of trust, of belongingness together. The norms about what was and wasn’t done held because our legislators trusted one another. They might disagree on this or that policy proposal, but they had a sense of belongingness with one another. There were some problems with that belongingness: it was entwined with the legislators' shared value gap, valuing whites over people of color, men over women, the wealthy over the low-income. As problematic as the belongingness among members of the US congress has been, we may still mourn that their ability to have a basic trust and respect for each other has passed away.

* * *
This is part 2 of 3 of "Truth, Who Needs It?"
See also
Part 1: Hooray for Cognitive Bias!
Part 3: If You Want Truth, Build Trust


Hooray for Cognitive Bias!

Truth. Who Needs It? part 1

from Ben Yagoda, "The Cognitive Biases Tricking Your Brain," Atlantic Magazine, 2018 Sep
Wikipedia’s “List of cognitive biases” contains 185 entries, from actor-observer bias (“the tendency for explanations of other individuals’ behaviors to overemphasize the influence of their personality and underemphasize the influence of their situation … and for explanations of one’s own behaviors to do the opposite”) to the Zeigarnik effect (“uncompleted or interrupted tasks are remembered better than completed ones”).

Some of the 185 are dubious or trivial. The Ikea effect, for instance, is defined as “the tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they partially assembled themselves.” And others closely resemble one another to the point of redundancy. But a solid group of 100 or so biases has been repeatedly shown to exist, and can make a hash of our lives.

The gambler’s fallacy makes us absolutely certain that, if a coin has landed heads up five times in a row, it’s more likely to land tails up the sixth time. In fact, the odds are still 50-50.

Optimism bias leads us to consistently underestimate the costs and the duration of basically every project we undertake.

Availability bias makes us think that, say, traveling by plane is more dangerous than traveling by car. (Images of plane crashes are more vivid and dramatic in our memory and imagination, and hence more available to our consciousness.)

The anchoring effect is our tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered, particularly if that information is presented in numeric form, when making decisions, estimates, or predictions. This is the reason negotiators start with a number that is deliberately too low or too high: They know that number will “anchor” the subsequent dealings. A striking illustration of anchoring is an experiment in which participants observed a roulette-style wheel that stopped on either 10 or 65, then were asked to guess what percentage of United Nations countries is African. The ones who saw the wheel stop on 10 guessed 25 percent, on average; the ones who saw the wheel stop on 65 guessed 45 percent. (The correct percentage at the time of the experiment was about 28 percent.)

The effects of biases do not play out just on an individual level. Last year, President Donald Trump decided to send more troops to Afghanistan, and thereby walked right into the sunk-cost fallacy. He said, “Our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives.” Sunk-cost thinking tells us to stick with a bad investment because of the money we have already lost on it; to finish an unappetizing restaurant meal because, after all, we’re paying for it; to prosecute an unwinnable war because of the investment of blood and treasure. In all cases, this way of thinking is rubbish.

. . . the endowment effect . . . leads us to place an irrationally high value on our possessions. In [one] experiment half the participants were given a mug and then asked how much they would sell it for. The average answer was $5.78. The rest of the group said they would spend, on average, $2.21 for the same mug. This flew in the face of classic economic theory, which says that at a given time and among a certain population, an item has a market value that does not depend on whether one owns it or not.

If I had to single out a particular bias as the most pervasive and damaging, it would probably be confirmation bias. That’s the effect that leads us to look for evidence confirming what we already think or suspect, to view facts and ideas we encounter as further confirmation, and to discount or ignore any piece of evidence that seems to support an alternate view. Confirmation bias shows up most blatantly in our current political divide, where each side seems unable to allow that the other side is right about anything. Confirmation bias plays out in lots of other circumstances, sometimes with terrible consequences. To quote the 2005 report to the president on the lead-up to the Iraq War: “When confronted with evidence that indicated Iraq did not have [weapons of mass destruction], analysts tended to discount such information. Rather than weighing the evidence independently, analysts accepted information that fit the prevailing theory and rejected information that contradicted it.”
You probably recognize many of those cognitive biases Ben Yagoda and Wikipedia mentioned. And you probably recognize them because you’ve seen them in other people. They are harder to detect in ourselves. We humans are expert reasoners when it comes to spotting flaws in someone else’s argument. The positions we’re blind about are our own. For instance, when I mention to people that we’re good at seeing the weakness in other people’s arguments but lousy at noticing the gaps in our own reasoning, the most common response I get is: “Oh, yeah, I know a lot of people like that.”

Well, we are gathered for spiritual sustenance and spiritual challenge. Spiritually, what do we do with these facts about ourselves? There are two ways we might go from here.

I might talk about cultivating humility, developing a habit of doubting my own conclusions, holding my opinions lightly, and never believing what I think. I might talk about how to train and practice at spotting our own cognitive biases.

Or, I might take a different approach. I might say, you know what? Let’s just give up on that. It can’t happen. The biases built into our reasoning processes are inherent. They’re not fixable. One of the things we do spiritually is celebrate ourselves – affirm our worth and dignity, the beauty and wonder of the amazing life forms that we are. So let’s celebrate our cognitive biases because that’s who we are as humans. We are apes who search out and latch onto any information that seems to confirm what we already believe; we overlook or ignore information that suggests otherwise; and once we get a notion into our heads, it’s almost impossible to dislodge it. We rely on emotional reactions and heuristic shortcuts because: who’s got time to time think for themselves and carefully analyze the data for accuracy and implications? It’s not that we’re lazy, it’s that we’re busy. We got things to be doing. Let’s celebrate how amazingly productive we are!

The cognitive biases provide us with shortcuts, and yes, sometimes the shortcuts bypass, well, the truth, that is, the conclusion we would come to with a more careful and objective analysis of the evidence. But they are worth it. Our emotional reactions and our heuristic shortcuts help us connect to each other, form community, and facilitate our fantastic productivity. The occasional negative effects of cognitive bias are usually negligible, only rarely disastrous, and most often help us get along in our relationships and progress through our tasks.

Anyway, brain studies indicate that we get a rush of dopamine when we are processing information that supports our beliefs. “It feels good to ‘stick to our guns,’ even if we are wrong.” (Jack and Sarah Gorman)

We see the speck in our neighbor’s eye but do not notice the log in our own eye because we were built to do that, and not one of us can help it. This is not a bug in the way our brains are wired. It’s a feature. Sure, there’s a shadow side to it, but it evolved for a reason. There are good reasons for having bad reason, so hooray for human cognitive biases!

Let's celebrate what we are! There isn't much, but there is a little bit, we can do to mitigate the cognitive biases, and I'll talk about that later.

We humans are not merely a social species, but ultrasocial – a level achieved only by a handful of species, mostly insects like ants, termites, and bees. Chimps, for instance, are highly social -- but they aren’t ultrasocial. Primatologist Michael Tomasello gave this illustration: “It is inconceivable that you would ever see two chimpanzees carrying a log together.” But you will see ultrasocial species -- like ants or humans -- carrying something together.

At some point in about the last million years, our ancestors developed shared intentionality – that is, the ability to share mental representations of a task so that multiple people can work on it. Take something as seemingly simple as one person pulling down the branch for the other to pluck the fruit, and then both of them share the meal. Chimps never do this.

We are profound collaborators, connecting our brains together to solve problems that single brains can’t. We distribute the cognitive tasks. No individual knows everything it takes to build a cathedral, or an aircraft. Our species success comes not from individual rationality but from our unparalleled ability to think in groups. Our great glory is how well we rely on each other’s expertise.

We rely on it so smoothly that we assume that we understand things ourselves that we have let others work out. Take zippers. Or toilets. Or cylinder locks – the sort of lock you probably have on your front door. Do you know how zippers, toilets, and cylinder locks work?

A study at Yale asked graduate students to rate how well they understood these everyday devices. Most of them rated their understanding pretty high. They were then asked to write detailed, step-by-step explanations of how the devices worked. Forced to spell out the details, they realized there were some key details they were pretty fuzzy on. Asked again to rate their understanding of these devices, they rated themselves lower. (Sloman and Fernbach)

This illusion of explanatory depth allows me to take for granted what other people know and frees me from having to, as we like to say, re-invent the wheel. Our vast and complex collaboration depends on “not having to think about it” — that is, not having to think about most things so that my neurons can focus on what I am contributing -- so that others don’t have to think about that.

* * *
This is part 1 of 3 of "Truth. Who Needs It."
See also
Part 2: When Truth Stopped Mattering
Part 3: If You Want Truth, Build Trust


"Hey Boss, You Don't Want Your Employees to Meditate"

When I saw the headline of the recent New York Times Op-Ed -- "Hey Boss, You Don't Want Your Employees to Meditate" -- I thought: Oh, good. This will counter the criticism that meditation and mindfulness in the workplace are tools for corporations to improve productivity while avoiding correcting the injustices that produce workplace stress.

Let's look at the criticism and how the study by Kathleen Vohs and Andrew Hafenbrack, who wrote the Op-Ed, addresses it.

First, the American workplace is often stressful. Ronald Purser and Edwin Ng cite a Stanford-Harvard study that identified the stressors:
"A meta-analysis of 228 studies showed that...major workplace stressors were associated with a lack of health insurance, threats of constant layoffs and job insecurity, lack of discretion and autonomy in decision-making, long work hours, low organizational justice, and unrealistic job demands...Stress is shaped by a complex set of interacting power relations, networks of interests, and explanatory narratives."[2]
Corporations care about this stress because it reduces productivity. Rather than address the problems by pushing for universal health insurance, by lowering job demands and shortening work hours, and by providing job security, worker autonomy, and organizational justice, some corporations have introduced mindfulness programs. Kristen Ghodsee worries that these
"employer-sponored mindfulness programs obscure the insanity of our American work culture." [1]
Purser and Ng suggest that mindfulness is being used to promote quietism. Mindfulness, perhaps,
"merely amounts to employee pacification and a form of passive nihilism." [2]
In an earlier piece, Ronald Purser and David Loy wrote that mindfulness training:
"has become a trendy method for subduing employee unrest, promoting a tacit acceptance of the status quo, and as an instrumental tool for keeping attention focused on institutional goals." [3]
Training in peace and acceptance might lead employees "to spiral into complacency and subjugation" [4]. Practices that encourage altruism may also make people easier to exploit. Corporate mindfulness may be the latest version of workplace "cow psychology" -- so called because contented and docile cows give more milk. Ghodsee concludes:
"There is something insidious about corporations and universities promoting mindfulness among their employees, particularly those who might otherwise fight for necessary institutional change." [1]
But wait. If acceptance of reality demotivates people from agitating for institutional change, would it not equally well demotivate them from pursuit of the company's productivity goals? Docile cows might give more milk, but companies want workers who are motivated and energized, not merely docile.

Actually, two points. One, my experience suggests that meditation and mindfulness don't demotivate activism. Two, meditation and mindfulness apparently do demotivate the pursuit of productivity goals for their own sake.

The first point doesn't have much evidence for or against it. I've found that meditation facilitates increased interest in the well-being of all beings, and that this strengthens rather than weakens interest in working for institutional change. But this, as the empirically-minded will note, is anecdotal. We don't yet have careful studies on whether either (a) nonactivists who begin a meditation practice are more likely to become social activists, or (b) activists who begin a meditation practice become more effective, more energetic, or less susceptible to burn-out in their activism.

The second point, thanks to Vohs and Hafenbrack, has a supporting study. Meditation apparently does function, in some contexts, to reduce worker motivation to pursue their company's productivity goals. Vohs and Hafenbrack write:
"Among those who had meditated, motivation levels were lower on average. Those people didn’t feel as much like working on the assignments, nor did they want to spend as much time or effort to complete them. Meditation was correlated with reduced thoughts about the future and greater feelings of calm and serenity — states seemingly not conducive to wanting to tackle a work project." [5]
Actual performance, however, was unaffected. Meditation brings both increased focus and decreased motivation, Vohs and Hafenbrack conclude, and these two effects seem to cancel each other out, leaving overall performance neither improved nor worsened.

This "decreased motivation" was for particular tasks. The tasks used in the study "were similar to everyday workplace jobs: editing business memos, entering text into a computer and so on" [5]. That is, these were tasks that had no evident connection to making the world better. They are tasks that would normally be motivated only by the prospect of extrinsic, self-centered, material reward.

Along with "focused, nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment," which, as Hafenbrack and Vohs say, characterize a state of mindfulness [6], meditation also facilitates an increased sense of connection to other beings, and thus increased compassion. It makes sense that a wider, deeper sense of connection, and of the interconnection of all things, would shift motivation away away from tasks with only a material or egocentric reward. Instead, motivation would tend to shift toward concern for others and tasks that support life. Jeremy Hunter writes:
"If people pay attention to their mind, body, and emotions, they begin to approach the world with more openness and inquisitiveness. Quite often that touches off deeper values, such as concern for others and the world at large. A decade ago, Mirabai Bush, founding director of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, introduced a mindfulness program at Monsanto, a company that had been widely criticized for perpetuating shortsighted and damaging agricultural practices. At a corporate retreat, a top scientist approached her after a session and said, 'I realized that we’re creating products that kill life. We should be creating products that support life.' It’s a long journey from a personal insight like that to large-scale change, but at least we can say that mindfulness was starting to serve as a disruptive technology within the company.” [7]
We have yet to see American business culture make any notable shift toward compassion. But there is at least reason for seeing a connection between meditation and increased interest in compassion. An increase in workers who are more focused while also less interested in material rewards is a social good -- though not useful for the narrow productivity interests of corporate bosses.

Your boss might not want you to meditate -- though, since performance stays the same, your boss probably doesn't care. The rest of us who share this planet with you would love for you to cultivate compassion, acceptance, and focus.

* * *

[1] Kristen Ghodsee (Bowdoin College, Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies), "The Dangers of McMindfulness," ChronicleVitae, 2016 Apr 5.

[2] Ronald Purser, PhD (San Francisco State University, Professor of Management) and Edwin Ng, PhD (cultural theorist based in Melbourne, Australia; writes on Buddhism and mindfulness for the Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Religion & Ethics blog), "Corporate Mindfulness is Bullsh*t: Zen or no Zen, You're Working Harder and Being Paid Less," Salon, 2015 Sep 27.

[3] Ronald Purser and David Loy (Zen teacher), "Beyond McMindfulness," Huffington Post, 2013 Aug 31.

[4] Norman A.S. Farb (University of Toronto Missauga, Department of Psychology), "From Retreat Center to Clinic to Boardroom? Perils and Promises of the Modern Mindfulness Movement," Religions, 2014.

[5] Kathleen Vohs (University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management, Professor of Marketing) and Andrew Hafenbrack (Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior), "Hey Boss, You Don't Want Your Employees to Meditate," New York Times, 2018 Jun 14.

[6] Andrew Hafenbrack and Kathleen Vohs, "Mindfulness Meditation Impairs Task Motivation but Not Performance," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 2018 Jul.

[7] Jeremy Hunter (Claremont Graduate University, Drucker School of Management, Executive Mind Leadership Institute, Director and Professor of Practice), "Is Mindfulness Good for Business?" Mindful, 2013 Apr.