12 views

Buddhist concepts sharpen Western theories

Psychologists' work with Tibetan Buddhist monks and scholars can serve as a model for future discourse between scientists and other contemplative religions. Even the conversations that could lead to a sharpened understanding of cognition, emotion and even consciousness

 

Buddhist theories of the mind have also prejudiced the work of Stephanie Rude, PhD, an assistant professor of counselling psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is interested in applying these ideas to work with people with mental illnesses such as depression. Rudes, (2009) finds “the particular merit in an idea borrowed from Tibetan Buddhism, that the self of a belief in something permanent, stable and integral to a person which hinders happiness”

 According to Rudes, (2009), "When you read Buddhist writings, you get a sense of self as an obstacle in achieving fulfilment”. That is a huge difference in perspective from the West, where the concept of self-esteem or a "healthy" self is central to both theory and clinical practice. Yet, consistent with the Buddhist view, some Western research suggests that focusing on the self can compound negative emotions.

"A depressed person may make himself feel worse by interpreting his suffering as meaning he has failed in some way," Ekman, P. (2003). It explains that a trained Buddhist monk might choose to see his suffering as an inevitable part of being human.

Levingston (2007), “Westerners are conditioned to take suffering more personally and to think about suffering as something about themselves” (p.199). Eschewing a concept of the self as something immutable and central may help us to feel less harmed by the slings and arrows of misfortune. Rudes (2009), “Buddhist acceptance of mental suffering as an unavoidable condition of life, rather than a reflection on their personal failings, may help monks face sadness with equanimity” (p.57).

While Levingston (2007), agrees “A plan to study monks directly considers the body of knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism to be a major resource in continuing study of depression” (p.39).

According to Rudes, (2009), "It's a big challenge to Western researchers to figure out how these ideas might be used without losing too much in translation" (p.75). Eventually, psychologists may be able to use techniques cut on the teeth of Buddhist theories to teach people with depression to reconceptualise their ideas of self in ways that promote mental health.

Levingston (2007), agrees that “interdisciplinary understanding between Western psychology and Tibetan Buddhism not just borrowing concepts, but can be beneficial to both traditions.

Thus the hopes psychologists' work with Tibetan Buddhist monks and scholars can serve as a model for future discourse between scientists and other contemplative religions. Even the conversations that could lead to a sharpened understanding of cognition, emotion and even consciousness. "There is a lot we can learn from these traditions" (Levingston, 2007, p.74).

 Lobzang Dorji

 References

  • Davidson, R.J. & Harrington, A. (Eds.). (2001). Visions of compassion: Western scientists and Tibetan Buddhists examine human nature. Oxford: Oxford Press.
  • Ekman, P. (2003). Emotions revealed: Recognizing faces and feelings to improve communication and emotional life. New York: Times Books.
  • Houshmand, Z., Livingston, R.B., & Wallace, A.B. (Eds.) Consciousness at the crossroads: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on brain science and Buddhism. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Related Posts

Green is Good

The Pedestrians’ Day was a significant one. Not just because people walked to offices on that particular day. It was...

Aug 26, 2017 17:03

Fate of the print publications?

The market situation in the country, costly print edition, maintaining nationwide reach, and professionals required to...

Aug 25, 2017 19:25

Inaccessible access to information

There has been so much reiteration on the importance of communication, transparency and openness for that matter, but...

Aug 24, 2017 16:20

Civil service setbacks

All said and done, we just can’t ignore that there are loopholes in the civil service rules and regulations. Why would a...

Aug 23, 2017 17:10

Open economies?

These will definitely be new challenges and tough decisions we have to confront. The government is aware nothing comes...

Aug 22, 2017 14:58

Latest

Business

Annual mega trade fair with thematic exhibition on ‘Made in Bhutan’ from 14th to 18th September

The Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry will host its seventh annual international trade fair at the Changlingmithang stadium parking in...

Sep 02, 2017 11:34

Hoteliers for Tourist boom over the years

Bhutan ultimate gateway to tourist destinations received success inflow of travelers booming economy.

Aug 06, 2017 19:35
Continue to the Business Arrow

News

“The measure of a great country is how it looks after its most vulnerable people”

UN’s resident coordinator and resident representative of UNDP, Gerald Daly, speaks to Kuensel’s Tshering Palden on UN and Bhutan’s...

Sep 09, 2017 21:53

WHO presents citation to Bhutan for eliminating measles

Bhutan and the Maldives became the first two countries to eliminate measles in the WHO South-East Asia Region (SEAR) before the regional...

Sep 09, 2017 21:40
Continue to the News Arrow

Features

“I wanted to try”

A retired soldier, Wangda is experimenting growing crops that were not grown in Wangkha in the past

Aug 24, 2017 16:31

Exploring the alternative

To put it aptly, rural people have access to banks, but no access to loans or finance. Perhaps, it’s this notion that hydropower and tourism...

Aug 21, 2017 15:07
Continue to the Features Arrow

Sports

Olympic Council of Asia meets to enhance cooperation

Aug 25, 2017 19:39

Bhutan prepares to face Palestine

Going by the performance of the two in the last five games, Bhutan has a draw and a win against Bangladesh in AFC Asian qualifier in 2016,...

Aug 24, 2017 16:25
Continue to the Sports Arrow

Opinion

Green is Good

The Pedestrians’ Day was a significant one. Not just because people walked to offices on that particular day. It was significant because the...

Aug 26, 2017 17:03

Fate of the print publications?

The market situation in the country, costly print edition, maintaining nationwide reach, and professionals required to keep the paper...

Aug 25, 2017 19:25
Continue to the Opinion Arrow