Ahhh… the flash mob. It seems like only yesterday I was reading about Improv Everywhere’s 2008 Grand Central action. People freezing. Guards freaking out. A radical art happening in one of the world’s most active transit hubs post-911!
Remember that? Remember that “this is genius” feeling?
Well, we’ve come a long way in this city of random acts of space reclamation (Conflux fest!!!), and/but this weekend we take a step (forward? back? nowhere?) as there’s set to be the second NYC meditation flash mob. This time it’s being held in Washington Square Park. From the organizers:
12pm to 1pm we will be sitting in silent meditation near the arch on Washington Square North. The more people sitting at 1pm the better but you can show up anytime between 12pm and 1pm and start sitting.
The Sound Bath:
At 1pm. We we gather for sacred sound. You can use any mantra or sound that connects you to the higher source within you or the universal energy of all life. Om, Ah, God, Allah, or any other random sound that vibrates you personally.
The throat is the center of self-expression and creativity. By unleashing our highest vibrational sounds we allow for change to grow from within. It’s also a lot of fun and just sounds awesome to everyone around.
Man. It’s tough these days for reclaiming public space / sorta Situationist / sorta public art happenings. In this world of total and complete co-opting of the magical original, it’s inevitable that authentic happenings will get immediately recuperated into the greater mainstream social Spectacle, and used—in a way—against itself…
Not to be swayed, however, the intention of the meditation flash mob, as stated by the mobbers themselves, is to:
- To create an environment for people from all walks of life to come together in meditation.
- To expose the world to meditation through public display of meditation.
- To come together as a global community to send positive intentions out into the world.
- To show that leading by example is the best way to lead. Simple acts can stimulate major paradigm shifts in thinking.
I wonder at what point an action (creative/rebellious/revolutionary/etc.) no longer has the desired effect of changing people’s “paradigms” but becomes more about the people doing it and saying they did.
It’s obvious (to some) that an act is always in some sense selfish, or at least by default acknowledges that I am a self and will receive pleasure from this act. In and of itself, that’s not a bad thing. What trips me up is when the motivation for an act is presented as a desire to display to an outside “other” the benefits of an act through its own absurdity (say, meditating en masse in a public space), but in reality is more about the people doing the act.
What happens when the action (arguably) no longer has any teeth? What happens when an act is simply read as “Oh here come those kids and their flash mob again”? What happens when an act can so very easily be dismissed as just more bodies in space? At that point, what’s really the motivation behind an act?
To jump the shark is to deny the beautiful Truth in that one thing we ultimately can not control, death. Jumping the shark is the point when a movement, a TV show (as in Happy Days, where the phrase comes from) throws a Hail Mary (say, dressing The Fonz up in his leather jacket and water-skis and having him jump a shark!), and hopes to salvage what little is left of the original idea. It’s basically saying, We’ve got nothing left. I hope this works.
OSHO is quoted (somewhere, maybe in his book on zen) as saying that Christianity’s claim that God and/or Heaven is in a sense the same as nirvana, is Christianity’s last dying attempt to latch on to a narrative that will outlast itself. It’s Christianity’s way of saying, Let us live. We’re just like you!
Now, I’m a Jesus lover, but I can’t help but wonder:
In this instance, and in light of OSHO’s bombast, who’s Chrisitianity and who’s nirvana? Flash mobs or meditation itself?