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The Positive Psychology of Buddhism and Yoga, 2nd Edition: Paths to A Mature Happiness [Paperback]

Marvin Levine
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 16, 2009 1848728514 978-1848728516 2

This book describes Buddhist-Yogic ideas in relation to those of contemporary Western psychology. The book begins with the Buddhist view of the human psyche and of the human condition. This leads to the question of what psychological changes need to be made to improve that condition. Similarities between Buddhism and Western Psychology include:

Both are concerned with alleviating inner pain, turmoil, affliction and suffering.

Both are humanistic and naturalistic in that they focus on the human condition and interpret it in natural terms.

Both view the human being as caught in a causal framework, in a matrix of forces such as cravings or drives which are produced by both our biology and our beliefs.

Both teach the appropriatenss of compassion, concern and unconditional positive regard towards others.

Both share the ideal of maturing or growth. In the East and the West, this is interpreted as greater self possession, diminished cravings and agitations, less impulsivity and deeper observations which permit us to monitor and change our thoughts and emotional states.

Buddhism, Yoga, and Western Psychology, especially the recent emphasis on positive psychology, are concerned with the attainment of deep and lasting happiness. The thesis of all three is that self-transformation is the surest path to this happiness.

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Editorial Reviews


"I have never read a clearer or more useful introduction to the positive psychological practices of Buddhism and Yoga. Each page is simply fascinating reading and appeals simultaneously to the lay reader and the seasoned scholar. The discussion of anger and how to overcome it is life-transforming. I would strongly recommend this book to undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals. One rarely finds a book that reaches right into one’s mind and soul with a powerful vision of human enhancement. This is one of them." - Stephen G. Post Director, Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Stony Brook University

"There are few books that can make a real difference in people’s lives…this is one of them. It is an intellectual tour-de-force. It is a "must read" for any psychologist interested in Eastern thought. Many hundreds of millions of people believe that Enlightenment is the ultimate goal in life. Levine’s new second edition could be the best first step toward becoming "enlightened" that any of us will take." - George Howard, Psychology Department, University of Notre Dame

"After decades of focusing on mental illness and what is wrong with human nature, psychological science has renewed its interest in the positive aspects of human existence. It is in this vein that Marvin Levine offers a blend of western science and eastern practices to help us become more peaceful and less anxious, a goal he calls mature happiness. Levine’s newest book has many ideas and techniques that just might help us become calmer and even happier and wiser." - Dr. Diane F Halpern, Professor of Psychology , Claremont McKenna College and Past President of APA

Reviews of the first edition:

"Marvin Levine tells a profound story in a style that engages while it informs us of new ways to view the world within ourselves and without. This book teaches us vital lessons about how these Eastern philosophical traditions can be integrated with Western psychological methods of understanding the mind….I think it has much value to novices as well as to professionals in these areas. As a psychologist, Marvin Levine is uniquely qualified to reveal the strands of overlap between these Eastern views of the human condition and those in Western psychological practices." - Philip Zimbardo, Department of Psychology, Stanford University, Past President of APA

"The book is lucid in its explanation of the principles of Buddhism and Yoga. I have never seen a clearer exposition of this kind. It makes a good case that many of these principles are compatible with those of modern, empirically-grounded Western psychology." - Donald Routh, University of Miami

"This book has promise of becoming an instant classic." - Suresh Srivastva, Case Western Reserve University

About the Author

Marvin Levine, a well-known researcher and theorist in cognitive-experimental psychology, received his M.A. at Harvard where he worked with B.F. Skinner and George Miller, and his Ph.D. with Harry Harlow at the University of Wisconsin. Since 1965 he has been a professor in the Department of Psychology at Stony Brook University.

His earliest work was on intellectual problem solving, research that served to counter the then popular conditioning view of human behavior. He later turned his attention to interpersonal problem solving, giving workshops on assertiveness training and anger management, and for several years helped resolve disputes as a volunteer mediator. He is also a published poet and a professional musician. As is revealed in this volume, all these activities have contributed to his understanding of human nature.

He also maintained a long-standing interest in Eastern philosophy. He gradually began to see similarities between the conceptions and methods of Buddhism and Yoga and those of Western psychotherapy. In this accessible book he discusses these three systems. The exotic and "mystical" trappings from Buddhism and Yoga are stripped away. The emphasis, instead, is on their aims and methods, and their relation to Western psychology. This approach provides a clear understanding of how to live a more useful, happier life. It is also an essential read for anyone interested in an enlarged framework for modern psychology.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (July 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848728514
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848728516
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #903,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As a physcian.... July 14, 2002
By A Customer
As a physician who has treated clinical anxiety and depression for the past 15 years, Levines book caught my eye at our local library. For the past several years I`ve incorporated many buddhist and yogic principles into my own life. I've read multiple authors and as many different approaches to practicing these disciplines. After years of self-study and several retreats, I have a plethora of scattered info. and techniques that allow me to practice meditation and heighten my awareness to enrich my day and overall life. Throughout this time I have always been amazed at how buddhism and the hindu principles behind yoga overlap into the modern day Cognitive-Behavioral psychotherapy, of which I rely heavily in my clinical medical practice. So when I started to read Levine's book I soaked it up like a sponge. He takes all three disciplines and, with clever flare, shows how they do overlap and provides practical ways of application . His style and presentation is that you do not have to know anything about any of these three methods to have a working and usable understanding of all three at the end. Separate scholars in these three areas may find this approach too abbreviated, as Levine does hit the highpoints of each topic. He acknowledges this several times throughout the book. However, it depends on what your goals are with techniques such as these. My goal is not to know every "nook and cranny" about theses three topics. Nor is it to become a disciple of any of them [ although I have to understand Cognitive-Behavioral psychotherapy in my practice]. My goal-----is to better understand my day and life in order to draw deeper joy and dimension from both. And I don't care what method I use to do this [a hybrid of all three is fine with me]. Read more ›
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Promises to be a Classic August 2, 2005
By M. Hill
This book is both a wonderful introduction to the psychological frameworks of Buddhism and Yoga (B&Y) and--most importantly--a practical guide to applying these systems to develop greater emotional maturity and overall wellbeing. According to Levine, the path to mature happiness developed in the ancient philosophies of B&Y requires calming one's conditioned beliefs and "passions" to allow greater control by the "anterior mind" (the "mind's eye" capable of observing, contemplating, and directing the mind). At the extreme, an "immature" individual is entirely conditioned by his or her culture, language, and biology--yielding the positive functions of anterior mind nonfunctional. Much like a little child, such a person's mental state is completely at the mercy of the external environment. He/she feels alright when a craving or ego desire is fed--but falls into tantrums and anguish whenever a craving or desire cannot be satisfied. Moreover, perception and interpretation of external events are distorted by the conditioned mind and its many unchecked passions (ego needs, cravings and attachments, fears and aversions, antipathies and resentments). The result is a life filled with suffering and illusion.

Fortunately, children typically do learn to moderate their most selfish behaviors as they grow to adulthood: "[P]art of growing up entails learning some self-transformation" (p. 54). Nevertheless, Levine points out that our American vision of "normal" allows for a mix of mature and immature behavior. "Normal" adults experience disquieting feelings (anger, pettiness, impatience, envy) quite regularly: e.g., when "stuck" in a traffic jam or when passed over for promotion at work.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars M.A.S.T.E.R.L.Y January 18, 2006
Not so many books became instant "classics", this is one of them. As many people, I've read a lot of books on Buddhism, knowing intuitively that there is something interesting there.

I don't know for you, but for me, this gave me by moments an impression of a course in a complex and sometimes confusing jungle. A territory in which the sources are not always highly reliable or captivating. In such a context, the work of Marvin Levine is THE book which I hoped for years.

I am traditionally not a "fan" of the use of superlatives. But in this case,it would be particularly difficult to react differently: Marvin Levine book is truly an outstanding one.

The reasons are many. Among them,

- the text contain one of the clearest and straightforward explanation of the Core of Buddhism available. I've personally never found something like this and didn't knew it exists.

- the amazing relation between Buddhist approaches and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is remarkably explained. Moreover, Levine is a recognized expert in the field of CBT.

- the source is reliable, which is not always easy to find. No "pop-psychology" or "academic annoyances" will be founded here.

- the overall book style is attractive, in addition to its other qualities, this pure gem offer a real and intense reading pleasure.

- this is the kind of book that one preserves preciously in his/her library < in my opinion,the hard-bound edition, of excellent quality, is worth to be considered >

- I don't know excactly why, but,the reading generate an true impression of personal enrichment. Also, this is the kind of book you "feel good" when reading it. Very Positive.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable and enjoyable
[[ASIN:B004OVESUE The Positive Psychology of Buddhism and Yoga is a great introduction to Buddhism and Yoga and their worldview, which is very different from that of Western... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Samuel H. Revusky
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're a Westerner who is becoming interested in Eastern thought,...
I actually would give this book 4 1/2 stars. The reason I didn't give it 5 is that there is very little about positive psychology, even though that's listed 1st in the title. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Julia
5.0 out of 5 stars great multi-purpose book
I read this book after starting a yoga practice. I have always been interested in psychology - almost majored in it. Read more
Published on April 20, 2011 by ericfromct
4.0 out of 5 stars I'm enjoying this book so far!
There is a lot of good information in this book and I would recommend it to anyone looking to advance on their spiritual path to better self-awareness and maturity.
Published on October 16, 2010 by CAT
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing first chapter, pages all mixed up but 5 stars for content and...
I'm not sure if this is just a quirk of my book or indicative of a wider problem but I just received this and the first page is page 37-68 then it goes right into chapter 2. Read more
Published on September 4, 2010 by tanya
4.0 out of 5 stars Buddhism or Yoga? Both!
In the first part author makes two no-nonsense courses: buddhism and yoga for dummies. For complete novices this is great reading, for more knowledgable or practitioners there are... Read more
Published on December 7, 2009 by Darko M.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Mind's Eye
I enjoyed reading this book. It has a kind of quaintness about its language and examples.

I was determined to find the best (for me) advice from the book and put it into... Read more
Published on April 5, 2009 by Malcolm Gorman
5.0 out of 5 stars The Positive Psychology of Buddhism and Yoga
This book was outstanding! I have been in the martial arts for 33 years and most of that is has been with the study of Buddhism. Read more
Published on January 9, 2007 by G. Sluys
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent piece of work
This book does an incredible job of making buddhism and yoga accessible to the average, everyday man or woman raised in the west. Read more
Published on January 3, 2007 by S. Scatena
4.0 out of 5 stars Good intro relating Basic Buddhism, Yoga, & certain psych's
pp. 213-4: "this book is a primer, an introduction to the most basic teachings of Buddhism and Yoga. It is introductory... Read more
Published on June 7, 2005 by Neal J. Pollock
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