Author Topic: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy  (Read 3761 times)

Offline sdjeff1

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Re: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy
« Reply #15 on: September 10, 2012, 09:48:01 am »
So I guess the question the becomes, "What is the difference between a psychologist and a Buddha?"

It seems that both psychology and Buddhism are concerned with understanding the mind.  Maybe one difference is that psychology aims to develop a healthier sense of "I", while Buddhism challenges the assumption of an "I".

For me, (and probably a lot of beginning Buddhists) realizing self has to come before the realization of no-self. Personally, I've read some on no-self and I have a little understanding of it but I haven't realized it. Sure it will be quite a while.

I think, being a client in the system, western psychotherapy concentrates more on improving the self, and there's little to no exploration of no-self. I would imagine a couple of reasons for this could be that for one, no-self is an advanced subject and the improvement of self must come first. secondly, a lot of clients have a whole range of functioning, from low to high. Perhaps many Buddhist teachings are just too advanced for many no matter how you frame it. But again, I'm no therapist.

And then there's that whole issue of teaching religion in therapy. Even if it's repackaged.
It's easier to push the cart rather than thinking of pushing the cart.
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To be normal is the ideal aim of the unsuccessful.
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Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy
« Reply #16 on: September 11, 2012, 02:05:20 am »
I would imagine a couple of reasons for this could be that for one, no-self is an advanced subject and the improvement of self must come first. secondly, a lot of clients have a whole range of functioning, from low to high.

I agree, and it's no accident that Buddhism has practices like metta bhavana which are partly about psychological health. 

Offline FallingLeaf

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Re: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy
« Reply #17 on: September 19, 2012, 07:29:33 am »
All the endless talk and confusion regarding self/no self seems so unnecessary. There is an ego, which is a changing mental construction that acts as the locus of awareness and volition. There isn't a permanent immortal soul that goes somewhere after the body dies. Some Eastern traditions hold that there is a permanent soul. Buddhism is not one of them. Ego yes, soul no. How hard is that? Western psychology attempts to treat the ego. Buddhist psychology attempts to transcend the ego. Both ego and soul are commonly referred to as self, which creates confusion. That's too bad, but its not worth all the wailing and gnashing that seems to permeate so many Buddhist discussions.  http://www.purifymind.com/RoleEgo.htm
« Last Edit: September 19, 2012, 07:41:21 am by FallingLeaf »

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy
« Reply #18 on: September 20, 2012, 01:44:04 am »
Western psychology attempts to treat the ego. Buddhist psychology attempts to transcend the ego.

Yes, that seems like a good way of putting it.

Offline Melanie

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Re: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy
« Reply #19 on: September 20, 2012, 03:10:34 pm »
This is a very interesting discussion, as I recently had a thought and I may have to explain:

My auntie has Leukemia and lives in CO. USA. I live in the UK and her/my family and her friends live in Germany. Her German is basic though and mine is much better. So she trusted me with a long list of people that I am meant to call when she is getting worse or even dies. This is a big resposnibility and I am happy to do this for her. Especially since there is little else I can do for her being half way accross the planet. All I was thinking is, after 30 phone calls, letting people know that my beloved auntie died, I will need therapy!!!  :bigtears:

Then I came round, and thought about attachment and emotions. I cannot describe it as well as you guys do, but I have understood by now, that I can look at this from a much more detached angle in order to help myself getting through difficult times.

My point about this is though, that really I dont need a therapist. I need to think about my emotions objectively. And Buddhism helped me understand that.

HOWEVER, can someone explain to me the "I". "me", "self" and so on differences? I have read so much about it, but it is so complicated and all I need I think is a simple explanation, without the complicated sentences and words.

I would like to speak to my teacher about it the next time I see him, but I don't wanna look like a total idiot, so maybe you can help.

Thanks all!  :listen:
Be well,
Melanie

Offline Spiny Norman

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Re: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy
« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2012, 01:34:31 am »
HOWEVER, can someone explain to me the "I". "me", "self" and so on differences? I have read so much about it, but it is so complicated and all I need I think is a simple explanation, without the complicated sentences and words.

Normally we think of there being a "me" that owns our body, thoughts, feelings, etc.   Buddhism challenges that notion, but really it's something we need to investigate for ourselves by developing mindfulness.

Offline Optimus Prime

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Re: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2012, 08:10:46 pm »
HOWEVER, can someone explain to me the "I". "me", "self" and so on differences? I have read so much about it, but it is so complicated and all I need I think is a simple explanation, without the complicated sentences and words.

I would like to speak to my teacher about it the next time I see him, but I don't wanna look like a total idiot, so maybe you can help.

Thanks all!  :listen:

I tried to make this as simple as I could, yet keep it comprehensive enough for you to get a good, solid foundation in understanding it.

The Teaching of Anatta (not-self)
The Buddha's teaching is that of anatta (not-self):
- Atta - means self. 
- Anatta - means not-self. 
[You'll also see Atman (soul) being used and Anatman (not-soul) - it means pretty much the same thing]

See what the Buddha observed was that we tend to identify with the changing conditions (i.e., impermanent things) around us and within our minds to be a permanent "me" or "mine", e.g., we say things like "my life", "my body", "my thoughts", "my feelings" and "my emotions".  But if we cling to impermanent things as being a permanent me or mine - we can set ourselves up for suffering when those impermanent things die out.

It's important to know what anatta isn't, as well as know what it is. 

Now you'll find that some Buddhists tend to use anatta as a doctrinal position - a stand that the Buddha took, as if saying from up high that "There's no self, there is no soul!" - but that is not the teaching of anatta.  Rather, anatta (not-self) is a reflective tool - a skillful way to help us let go of things that cause us suffering. 

The Buddha does NOT proclaim that:
- "There is no self!" - this is the view of annihilation.  If the Buddha said that - then it would confuse the heck out of people and you might go around thinking, "Am I supposed to believe that I don't exist now?  Cos here I am!" - people criticize you and you feel upset, they praise you and you are happy - so it feels very much like there's a sense of self.  Further, if there's no self, how come good and bad karma follow the same person when it ripens?
- "There is a self" - this is the view of eternalism.  Because that would be encouraging you take changing, impermanent conditions to be a permanent "you" - these conditions change and die out but that which is aware within you doesn't die out with them - therefore you are not those conditions.
So what the Buddha was pointing to is the changing conditions that we usually identify with as being "me" and "mine" - these are not-self, anatta.





How to Use the Principle of Anatta to Reflect on things
For example, if we look at our feelings, we usually say, "I've got to get a handle on 'my' feelings" and we make it very personal.  But when we reflect with anatta, we don't say things like that. 

Rather, we just look at the feelings and recognize that they are just a form of emotional energy that arises, stays around for a while and then start to fade away.  So when we reflect with anatta, we see that "Feelings are just feelings and are not self.  They're just an energy that arises and ceases.  They are not really me, they are not really mine."
- Because you can sit back and observe those, feelings - those feelings are something separate from you, aren't they? 
- And because they are separate from you - they are not really you, are they? 
Therefore they are not self, they are not really yours.


Worked Example

So take for example let's say you get angry, so you usually say, "I am angry!" because if you say that - you've already taken the anger to be you, you've already taken that anger to be a part of you, you've already taken that anger to be yours (self view). 

But with anatta, instead of saying "I am angry", you observe the anger and you reflect, "There is anger - it's just a feeling that arises and ceases - it's not really me, it's not really a part of me, it's not really mine" and then you watch the anger, feel that it's an energy that changes - the intensity of the anger changes from moment to moment:
- And because you can sit back and observe the anger - therefore you are not the anger - are you? 
- That which is aware of the anger is not angry, is it?  The anger is something separate from that which knows the anger.

So you realize, "Oh, anger is just a feeling that comes, hangs around for a while and then dies out by itself."  So you reflect "Anger is just anger and not self" because you realize "Anger is just a feeling arises and ceases but it's not really me, it's not really mine" - so you just let it go, allow it to be and allow it to die out by itself.



Summary
So in summarizing the teaching of anatta is a tool, an instrument that the Buddha gave to us to help us challenge the "sense of self" that we all have - to help us question, "This body, these feelings, thoughts and emotions that I think are me and part of me - is that really right?  Because these are all just physical and mental energies that come and go - but I can observe them, I can be aware of these things as being separate from me - so are they really me?  Or are they just conditions that change?"  So "that which is aware" of the conditions is not those conditions - those conditions are not self.
« Last Edit: September 22, 2012, 08:19:14 pm by Optimus Prime »

Offline Lobster

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Re: Blending Buddhism And Psychotherapy
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2012, 02:04:43 am »
Quote
I would like to speak to my teacher about it the next time I see him, but I don't wanna look like a total idiot, so maybe you can help.

I aspire to total idiocy but that is another story . . .

The best way is to sit and explore the sense of "I'ness"
Whatever you look at is not the I . . .
When you are not focussed on sensations
I is there
When not in memory or imagination
I is there
the more you explore, the more you will note the I is present
but you are not those mind constructs
There is no I to be found independent of some origination
Find the I and I will show you the void
 :om:


 


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