Today’s *Vancouver Sun* includes an article: “Ancient Buddhism and
modern psychology; Both practices are focused on releasing followers
from suffering, and both aim for emotional health” by Douglas Todd.

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

‘Everybody’s a Buddhist now.”  That’s what a Vancouver yoga studio owner
recently said, a wry twinkle in her eye.

She was noticing how many of her yoga students were joining western
nature lovers, spiritual seekers and global pacifists in describing
themselves as followers of the 2,500-year-old Asian tradition.

Most of them were finding their entrée into Buddhism through meditation
and the healing arts….

There are many natural links between Buddhism and psychology.

Both are focused on releasing people from suffering.

Both explore states of consciousness.

Both aim for psychological liberation.

That’s why western psychotherapists, many with Jewish and Christian
backgrounds, have been adapting Buddhism to stressed-out people.

They believe it provides a fresh approach to emotional health.

In addition, western psychotherapists have been drawn to Buddhism’s
existentialism, which does not call up orthodox western understandings
of God.

They have also appreciated Buddhism’s emphasis on enlightenment and
transformation — and its meditative techniques.

It was less than 100 years ago that western psychotherapists’ attraction
to Buddhism first began rising noticeably to the surface in the West.

That’s when famed European psychologist Carl Jung worked with Zen master
D.T. Suzuki.

By 1960 the humanistic philosopher-therapist Erich Fromm was noting a
distinct interest among many Western psychoanalysts in Buddhism,
particularly Zen.

American philosopher Alan Watts then highlighted the power of Buddhism
to change consciousness.

Watts wasn’t necessarily thinking about the mentally disturbed.

He wanted to offer high-functioning North Americans a path to escape
what he considered their inner deadness.

The mass popularization of Buddhism through psychology, however, didn’t
really take hold until the 1990s.

That’s when psychotherapists such as Jack Kornfield, Mark Epstein,
Marsha Linehan, Allan Marlatt and Jon Kabat-Zinn began becoming almost
household names.

It’s also when famed Buddhist monks such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Chogyam
Trungpa and Pema Chodron were having their profiles raised by taking a
decidedly psychological approach to their teaching, including about not
clinging to desire.


Albert Ellis, a founder of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT),
championed using Buddhist rationality and contemplative practices to
overcome negative emotions such as anger, hatred and greed.

Kornfield has proposed a model of psychotherapy that is not based on
sickness, but on what he calls “Buddhist belief” in the inherent
nobility, beauty and freedom of human nature.


Alternatively, the Dalai Lama offers something else to think about.

He often surprises westerners who are drawn to Buddhism by telling them
they don’t need to convert.

As a proponent of interfaith dialogue, the Dalai Lama typically suggests
westerners take a second look at the richness of the Jewish, Christian
and Muslim traditions in which they were raised.

The Dalai Lama, a close friend of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu,
believes those religions are much more sophisticated, including about
divinity, than most westerners believe.

[end excerpts]

The article is online at:

Ken Pope