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Encountering Buddhism: Western Psychology and Buddhist Teachings Paperback – May 8, 2003
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From the Back Cover
"Creatively exploring the points of confluence and conflict between Western psychology and Buddhist teachings, various scholars, researchers, and therapists struggle to integrate their diverse psychological orientations--psychoanalytic, humanistic, cognitive-behavioral, transpersonal--with their diverse Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist practices. By investigating the degree to which Buddhist insights are compatible with Western science and culture, they then consider what each philosophical/psychological system has to offer the other. The contributors reveal how Buddhism has changed the way they practice psychotherapy, choose their research topics, and conduct their personal lives. In doing so, they illuminate the relevance of ancient Buddhist texts to contemporary cultural and psychological dilemmas." --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Seth Robert Segall is Assistant Clinical Professor at Yale University School of Medicine, Director of Psychology and Psychology Training at Waterbury Hospital, and Vice President of Lotus: The Educational Center for Integrative Healing and Wellness.
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A. BUDDHIST MEDITATION CAN HELP BOTH THERAPIST & CLIENT:
p. 175: Segall, "Psychotherapy Practice as Buddhist Practice": "Buddhist practice may be an important vehicle for developing emotional skills that are vital for the practice of psychotherapy, but are harder to teach...In the last half-century there has been a growing appreciation for the relevance of many of Buddhism's core concepts and practices to the practice of psychotherapy."
B. BUDDHIST APPROACHES CAN HELP FILL IN GAPS INHERENT IN PSYCHOTHERAPY:
p. 49: Jeffery Rubin, "Close Encounters of a New Kind" "The trace of the tragic psychology of illness in psychoanalysis emerges implicitly in its neglect of such topics as creativity, spirituality, and optimal mental and physical health. The psychoanalytic view of health is, according to Buddhism, a suboptimal state of being; an arrested state of development. Buddhism can challenge the limitations of a psychoanalytic view of self that is excessively self-centered and restrictive."
C. CORRESPONDINGLY, PSYCHOANALYSIS CAN HELP WESTERNERS PRACTICING BUDDHISM:
p. 48: Rubin, "Psychoanalysis can help Buddhists detect where they neglect unconsciousness and are being self-deceptive-where, for example, self-abasement in a Buddhist meditator can masquerade as spiritual asceticism."
D. BALANCED VIEW: BUDDHIST MIDDLE WAY/ARISTOTLE'S GOLDEN MEAN vs. EXTREMISM:
p. 35: Rubin-"Eurocentrism refers to the intellectually imperialistic tendency in much Western scholarship to assume that European and North American standards and values are the center of the moral and intellectual universe." & p. 39: "Orientocentrism...the mirror opposite danger to Eurocentrism: the idealizing and privileging of Asian thought-treating it as sacred-and the neglect if not dismissal of the value of Western psychological perspectives."
E. DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EASTERN & WESTERN MENTALITIES MUST BE CONSIDERED:
p. 58 note 4: Rubin: "The Dalai Lama was shocked to hear that Americans suffered from "self-directed contempt" (p. 196). He told a group of American scientists and mental health professionals that this experience was absent from Tibetan culture"
p. 152: Robert Rosenbaum, Reflections on Mirroring"--"As the bumper sticker on my daughter's car says, "Always remember you're unique, just like everybody else." Buddhism does not deny the existence of a personal, relativistic ego, but it does deny it any permanent, static qualities."
F. THERE ARE ALSO SOME PROFOUND OBSERVATIONS & VALUABLE METAPHORS:
p. 83: Segall, "On Being a Non-Buddhist Buddhist"--"I think we are very much like a whirlpool (Beck, 1993) in the ocean. We can identify and point to the whirlpool as a "separate" entity that we can observe. It is a pattern of energy and matter that emerges for a time, persists for a time, and then dissolves, much like ourselves. But the water of the whirlpool is not separate from the sea. The water in the whirlpool at one point in time is not the same water that is in the whirlpool at another point in time."
p. 155-6: Rosenbaum: "We are all constantly breaking into 100's of 1000's of pieces. Studying the pieces of the mirror is the mirror. When we study ourselves, we become the mirror facing the mirror. When we study ourselves in the presence of another person, two mirrors face themselves & face each other: we meet in mirroring. Each fragment of our experience is a clear mirror, is our entire life. Each piece is a whole; that whole is no different, in its wholeness, from this whole. This is complete realization... Enlightenment is simply an unburdening of all the accretions of thought, of preconceptions, of sense distortions, of preferential feelings that obscure reality; enlightenment is simply the manifestation of that which is."
G. SUMMARY--This is a very fine book. It would be interesting to see how they would react to Mahamudra or Dzogchen. Also, while I like their whirlpool and mirror analogies, they might also consider bar magnets or holograms in which the parts include the whole & the whole includes the parts.