WHOLE FOODS CEO JOHN MACKEY’S UTTERLY DISAPPOINTING WORLDVIEW
There is a Whole Foods across the street from the Interdependence Project in New York’s East Village, the Buddhist-inspired nonprofit organization which I direct. Some nights, after teaching or participating in a class on meditation and Buddhist psychology, or after yoga practice, I head to the Whole Foods on my way home, to buy convenient, healthy food for one of those 10 pm dinners New Yorkers know all too well. Since our organization works directly with issues of responsible consumption and environmental activism, it’s always nice to be able to find local and organic produce, even if it traumatizes my slender wallet to shop regularly at “Whole Paycheck.” Five-dollar pre-washed spinach from the North Fork of Long Island! It’s late, I’m exhausted; what could be better?
Of course on the surface, a Buddhist shopping at Whole Foods makes a lot of sense (almost to a degree of neo-hippy caricature). I practice, study, and teach a tradition of mental health and wellbeing, a path for people to systematically learn to take care of our own minds and extend that care-taking to others around us. A healthy diet and an interest in eating both local and organic foods are — for me — the physical extensions of that mental mindfulness practice.
However, the Buddhist teachings on the truth of interdependence don’t allow us to stop at the level of individual health and wellbeing. The more we pay attention to reality, the more we see the total impossibility of taking care of our own bodies and minds without taking care of others. The more we see interdependence — that our lives do not happen in a vacuum, separate from the lives of others — the more we realize that our own health is inextricably bound up with the health of others. If you are healthier, then I am healthier, and vice versa. This is true physically, this is true psychologically, and this is true communally.
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