Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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Kusala
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Re: Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

Post by Kusala » Sat Jul 20, 2013 7:54 am

ancientbuddhism wrote:The Tathāgata swept past anything psychotherapy has to offer. You cannot talk yourself out of dukkha.
In the words of H.G. Wells...

"The fundamental teachings of Gautama, as it is now being made plain to us by study of original sources, is clear and simple and in the closest harmony with modern ideas. It is beyond all disputes the achievement of one of the most penetrating intelligence the world has ever known. Buddhism is the advance of world civilization and true culture than any other influence in the chronicles of mankind."
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"He, the Blessed One, is indeed the Noble Lord, the Perfectly Enlightened One;
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding, the Serene One, the Knower of the Worlds;
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained; he is Teacher of gods and men; he is Awake and Holy. "

--------------------------------------------
"The Dhamma is well-expounded by the Blessed One,
Apparent here and now, timeless, encouraging investigation,
Leading to liberation, to be experienced individually by the wise. "

PeterB
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Re: Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

Post by PeterB » Sat Jul 20, 2013 8:38 am

danieLion wrote:
binocular wrote:That kind of attitude suggests that in all the time that the Buddhist tradition has existed, it has not produced viable Buddhist means to deal with whatever problems a person may face in life.
And when Buddhists are sending people to seek help outside of Buddhism, they themselves are implying that they don't have all that much faith in Buddhism either.

Hi binocular,
Regarding this so-called thing called Buddhism Ajahn Sucitto says in his talk Wisdom:
As soon as the "ism" arrives the wisdom disappears [laughs] because you're trying to make it a solid thing [reification]. Buddhism is just a word that was created in the 19th century by people who believed in "Isms" [laughs] and who wanted to have some solid thing they could hold onto; you know, "I'll label it that." But what is it? It's a huge range of different people doing different things. Wisdom breaks up, keeps looking into the diversities; and when we get stuck this kind of definitely wanting to have something to hold onto is a simplistic fundamentalism. It's easier that way. Attachment to systems and techniques is easier for the mind [at the 3:32-4:43 mark].


This has a lot in common with CBT's and REBT's views on depression.

Ajahn Sucitto also translates domanassa as depression in the introduction he wrote for Ajahn Sumedho's The Way It Is (in reference to dependent origination).

Kindly,
dL
:goodpost:

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Alex123
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Re: Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

Post by Alex123 » Sat Jul 20, 2013 4:44 pm

Kusala wrote:Someone posted this article a while back...

Still Crazy after all these Years: Why Meditation isn't Psychotherapy http://www.buddhanet.net/crazy.htm
was first struck by Kornfield’s claim that at least half of the students who attempt to do traditional vipassanâ meditation at IMS cannot do so. This is an extraordinary admission of failure for any meditation teacher or meditation centre. In my experience as a practitioner and as a teacher - and I must admit to having a very limited experience as a teacher - I have only seen evidence of such a large failure rate among the students in circumstances where it was quite clear that the teachers were doing a very bad job.
...
Rubin explains that enlightenment in Theravâda Buddhism is described as completely purifying the mind of the defilements of greed, hatred and delusion. This ideal assumes that the mind can be permanently and completely purified and therefore transformed (83-4 & 87). However, Rubin points out that in 1983 "five of the six most esteemed Zen Buddhist masters in the United States" were involved in grossly unenlightened behaviour such as sexual exploitation and stealing money (88). The question arises: How can these scandals occur if these people are supposed to be enlightened? How can this have happened? Rubin concludes that these scandals suggest that:

... psychological conditioning from the past that inevitably warps personality cannot be completely eradicated and that there is no conflict-free stage of human life in which the mind is permanently purified of conflict....

From the psychoanalytic perspective, a static, conflict-free sphere - a psychological "safehouse" - beyond the vicissitudes of conflict and conditioning where mind is immune to various aspects of affective life such as self-interest, egocentricity, fear, lust, greed, and suffering is quixotic. Since conflict and suffering seem to be inevitable aspects of human life, the ideal of Enlightenment may be asymptotic, that is, an unreachable ideal (90).
One of the selling points of Buddhism is Awakening here and now which implies peace of mind, absence of negative emotional states, etc... To this a Christian can object "who care about peace in this life if the non-believer will burn in hell for all eternity"?

If this ideal is impossible than it all begs the question:
  • "Why follow Buddhism if it might not be able to deal with negative mental states"? :jawdrop:
Idea of gaining paramis, following sila and getting a better rebirth seem not too be much more believable than
  • "follow the commandments and go to Heaven with Lord Jesus Christ". :rolleye:
The suttas that say that one should not speculate about Kamma almost sounds like one shouldn't speculate about why God did this or did that. God works in mysterious ways... God has a divine plan, and who are we, mere mortals, to know about it? ;)

When we see that good people suffer, the typical explanation is that it is result of previous kamma. But how much more believable is this than saying that
"God sends tough circumstances for people to make them better"? How can we prove either one? We can't...
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

Post by binocular » Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:06 am

danieLion wrote:
binocular wrote:That kind of attitude suggests that in all the time that the Buddhist tradition has existed, it has not produced viable Buddhist means to deal with whatever problems a person may face in life.
And when Buddhists are sending people to seek help outside of Buddhism, they themselves are implying that they don't have all that much faith in Buddhism either.

Hi binocular,
Regarding this so-called thing called Buddhism Ajahn Sucitto says in his talk Wisdom:
As soon as the "ism" arrives the wisdom disappears [laughs] because you're trying to make it a solid thing [reification]. Buddhism is just a word that was created in the 19th century by people who believed in "Isms" [laughs] and who wanted to have some solid thing they could hold onto; you know, "I'll label it that." But what is it? It's a huge range of different people doing different things. Wisdom breaks up, keeps looking into the diversities; and when we get stuck this kind of definitely wanting to have something to hold onto is a simplistic fundamentalism. It's easier that way. Attachment to systems and techniques is easier for the mind [at the 3:32-4:43 mark].
Is a complete cessation of suffering possible by following an ecclectic approach?
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

binocular
Posts: 5638
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

Post by binocular » Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:16 am

Alex123 wrote:One of the selling points of Buddhism is Awakening here and now which implies peace of mind, absence of negative emotional states, etc... To this a Christian can object "who care about peace in this life if the non-believer will burn in hell for all eternity"?

If this ideal is impossible than it all begs the question:
  • "Why follow Buddhism if it might not be able to deal with negative mental states"? :jawdrop:
Idea of gaining paramis, following sila and getting a better rebirth seem not too be much more believable than
  • "follow the commandments and go to Heaven with Lord Jesus Christ". :rolleye:
The suttas that say that one should not speculate about Kamma almost sounds like one shouldn't speculate about why God did this or did that. God works in mysterious ways... God has a divine plan, and who are we, mere mortals, to know about it? ;)

When we see that good people suffer, the typical explanation is that it is result of previous kamma. But how much more believable is this than saying that
"God sends tough circumstances for people to make them better"? How can we prove either one? We can't...
I think that Western Buddhists face a problem that Buddhists from traditionally Buddhist countries do not, and it is a problem that is rarely acknowledged, what to speak of addressed and provided with a solution.

And that is that a Westerner with an interest in Buddhism is very much left to themselves, having to build up their Dhamma practice in the context of an environment that is even hostile to the Dhamma, and having to build up their Dhamma practice without an already given context with other Dhamma practitioners (ie. one isn't born into a Buddhist community that practices according to a particular Buddhist school, but instead has to choose which Buddhist school to follow).
This is an enormous task that people from traditionally Buddhist countries do not face.

And once one has to build things up from scratch like that, it's no wonder one ends up with absurdities, occasional, or not so occasional fanaticism, and all kinds of other problems ...
Every person we save is one less zombie to fight. -- World War Z

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

Post by danieLion » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:20 pm

binocular wrote:
danieLion wrote:
binocular wrote:That kind of attitude suggests that in all the time that the Buddhist tradition has existed, it has not produced viable Buddhist means to deal with whatever problems a person may face in life.
And when Buddhists are sending people to seek help outside of Buddhism, they themselves are implying that they don't have all that much faith in Buddhism either.

Hi binocular,
Regarding this so-called thing called Buddhism Ajahn Sucitto says in his talk Wisdom:
As soon as the "ism" arrives the wisdom disappears [laughs] because you're trying to make it a solid thing [reification]. Buddhism is just a word that was created in the 19th century by people who believed in "Isms" [laughs] and who wanted to have some solid thing they could hold onto; you know, "I'll label it that." But what is it? It's a huge range of different people doing different things. Wisdom breaks up, keeps looking into the diversities; and when we get stuck this kind of definitely wanting to have something to hold onto is a simplistic fundamentalism. It's easier that way. Attachment to systems and techniques is easier for the mind [at the 3:32-4:43 mark].
Is a complete cessation of suffering possible by following an ecclectic approach?
Hi binocular,
It depends on what you mean by "complete cessation of suffering." Suffering is generally an inadequate translation of dukkha, of which there are three types. If you're looking for a cure to depression, especially via the Dhamma, you're just setting yourself up for disappointment. Even after his awakening, the Buddha was still very human.
Kindly,
dL

danieLion
Posts: 1947
Joined: Wed May 25, 2011 4:49 am

Re: Treating samvega with Western psychotherapy?

Post by danieLion » Sun Jul 21, 2013 9:23 pm

binocular wrote:
Alex123 wrote:One of the selling points of Buddhism is Awakening here and now which implies peace of mind, absence of negative emotional states, etc... To this a Christian can object "who care about peace in this life if the non-believer will burn in hell for all eternity"?

If this ideal is impossible than it all begs the question:
  • "Why follow Buddhism if it might not be able to deal with negative mental states"? :jawdrop:
Idea of gaining paramis, following sila and getting a better rebirth seem not too be much more believable than
  • "follow the commandments and go to Heaven with Lord Jesus Christ". :rolleye:
The suttas that say that one should not speculate about Kamma almost sounds like one shouldn't speculate about why God did this or did that. God works in mysterious ways... God has a divine plan, and who are we, mere mortals, to know about it? ;)

When we see that good people suffer, the typical explanation is that it is result of previous kamma. But how much more believable is this than saying that
"God sends tough circumstances for people to make them better"? How can we prove either one? We can't...
I think that Western Buddhists face a problem that Buddhists from traditionally Buddhist countries do not, and it is a problem that is rarely acknowledged, what to speak of addressed and provided with a solution.

And that is that a Westerner with an interest in Buddhism is very much left to themselves, having to build up their Dhamma practice in the context of an environment that is even hostile to the Dhamma, and having to build up their Dhamma practice without an already given context with other Dhamma practitioners (ie. one isn't born into a Buddhist community that practices according to a particular Buddhist school, but instead has to choose which Buddhist school to follow).
This is an enormous task that people from traditionally Buddhist countries do not face.

And once one has to build things up from scratch like that, it's no wonder one ends up with absurdities, occasional, or not so occasional fanaticism, and all kinds of other problems ...
Hi binocular,
"Building things up from scratch" has been necessary for every historical "revival" of the Dhamma, not just so-called "Western Buddhists."
Kindly,
dL

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