Western and Buddhist psychologies acknowledge the significant role distorted self-narratives play in poor mental health. But these two disciplines hold divergent views on the utility of ‘cherishing the self’. Western psychology claims high self-esteem is a requirement for self-confidence, happiness, and success. Buddhist psychology asserts wisdom and compassion are the forerunners of genuine confidence and sustainable personal and collective well-being. It further states that endemic self-cherishing—the habitual reification of distorted hyper-egoic self-narratives—is a primary source of mental and emotional affliction. Yet, Buddhist psychology also affirms the innate capacity of all human beings to end the mental suffering of self-cherishing. This chapter explicates Western and Buddhist psychological models of self, Buddhist theories of not-self and conventional and ultimate self-cherishing, and outlines a somatopsychotherapeutic clinical approach for helping individuals struggling with depressive, anxious, trauma-related symptoms and addictions, to recognize self-cherishing mentation and lessen its deleterious effects.
Non-delusion and Undeluded Mind This second talk covers the Buddhist psychological description of how non-delusion manifests in human perception and practical steps for cultivating non-delusion in daily life.
Stephen Batchelor discusses a secular dharma based upon his interpretation of the historical Buddha’s teachings found in the Pāli Canon. I think he does a fantastic job of condensing the main topics more deeply expounded upon in his terrific new book, After Buddhism, which I highly recommend. Stephen does have some very thoughtful comments about the conflictual issues of secular mindfulness and corporate mindfulness in the Q&A found toward the end.
I offer this original sound/artwork as a gift to a world suffering with greed, hatred, and great confusion. This recording features the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation, a profound Tibetan Buddhist teaching by Geshe Langri Tangpa (1054–1123).
The Eight Verses provides a gateway into the awakened mind of a Bodhisattva by beautifully illustrating the inseparability of mind and heart in a very challenging and thoughtful manner. The text is a practical manual for developing the Pāramīs/Pāramitās: generosity, virtue, renunciation, wisdom, enthusiasm, patience, truthfulness, determination, lovingkindness, equanimity/compassion.
Seating oneself firmly in the sacredness of mind/heart allows full extension of the Bodhisattvic commitment to develop Bodhicitta; the altruistic intention to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. May this practice liberate all beings from the ocean of samsara.
The first path factor of the Buddha’s Eightfold Noble Path is right view, also known as wise understanding. Though right view is the first of the Eightfold path factors, it represents the fruition of the succeeding seven path factors. Right view and right intention (the second path factor) together encompass supreme training in wisdom; a training designed to awaken the faculty of penetrative understanding—that which knows things as they truly are. The Buddha defined right view as understanding dukkha—the inherent unsatisfactoriness of all experience—its origin, cessation and the path leading to its cessation. He also defined right view as wisely comprehending Dependent Origination—the Buddha’s topology of mind and the cognitive-affective perceptual mechanisms that cause us to misapprehend self and world as separate, autonomous and permanent. The Buddha taught that wrong view is the greatest source of unwholesome mind states and by extension, unwholesome decisions and behaviors. The fruition of right view is a heart-mind liberated from avidyā, the delusion of suffering.
On June 7, 2015, a select group of presenters from the Mindfulness and Compassion Conference at SFSU convened at the Mangalam Research Center in Berkeley to discuss Buddhism and Modernity. I chose to speak on Transcendent wisdom and psychotherapy. Below are videos of all three panels.
Panel 2: The role for the transcendent dimensions of Buddhist practice and teachings in a disenchanted world. Lisa Dale Miller (Psychotherapist), David Lewis (Independent Researcher), Jack Petranker (Mangalam Research Center). My talk begins at 8:22 in the video time sequence.
Panels 1 and 3 featured wonderful commentary on the problematic of modern mindfulness from academics and researchers working in the fields of philosophy, neuroscience and the social sciences.
Panel 1: Buddhist Philosophy and the Perennial Concerns of Western Philosophy
Stephen Jenkins (Humboldt State University), Steven Stanley (Cardiff University), and David Brazier (International Zen Therapy Institute).
Panel 3: How Insights from the Fields of Science Studies/History of Science/Continental Thought Might Shed New Light on the Dialogue Between Buddhism and Science. David McMahan (Franklin & Marshall College), Cliff Saron (University of California, Davis), Kin Cheung (Temple University), Geoffrey Samuel (University of Sydney), Linda Heuman (Brown University/John Templeton Fellow)
I just delivered two talks on non-attachment—certainly the most misunderstood and maligned Buddhist ideal. Both are uploaded now and available for free download.
The first talk deconstructs the term into its various meanings and explores the philosophical implications of non-attachment and identity clinging through the Buddha’s teachings from the Pāli Canon and those of several modern-day Buddhist teachers.
The second talk focuses on the practical application of non-attachment in daily life. Together the Sangha and I explored various ways to cultivate non-clinging by transforming greed with equanimity, hatred with compassion, and delusion with clarity.