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Buddhism meditation and modern psychotherapy

Start Session 1

Buddhism, Meditation and Modern Psychotherapy

  • Dr. Parker Wilson

    • parkerwilson01@yahoo.com

    • 626 392 4444

Apa format
APA Format

  • All references are: single spaced with a single space between references and are listed alphabetically

  • For standard books and journal articles:

    • Author – last name first

    • (Year of publication)

    • Title of book or article (small caps after capitalizing the first word)

    • Italicize:

      • Book title

      • Journal title

      • Journal volume and edition numbers

      • Title of a web page

    • One indent for every line in the reference after the first line

    • Page numbers plainly given for journal articles

    • Examples:

    • Beck, Richard (1998). Cognitive-behavioral therapy in the treatment of anger: a meta-analysis. Cognitive Therapy & Research, 22(1), 63-74.

    • Batchelor, S.R. (1997). Buddhism without beliefs: a contemporary guide to awakening. New York: Riverhead.

Apa format1
APA Format

  • For anthologies:

    • Chapter author – last name first

    • Year of publication

    • Title of chapter (small caps after the first word)

    • Editor’s name first name first with (Ed.) ending

    • Italicize:

      • Book title

    • Page numbers of the chapter in (pp. xx-xxx) format

    • One indent for every line in the reference after the first line

    • Example:

    • Annas, Julia (1987). Aristotle’s metaphysics. In J.L. Ackrill (Ed.) A new aristotle reader (pp. 127-178). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Psychotherapy and religion
Psychotherapy and Religion

  • What is the purpose of psychotherapy?

    • Freud and tolerating the intolerable

  • What is the purpose of religion?

The buddha
The Buddha

  • Siddhartha Gautama

  • Born to royalty

  • Trained as a warrior and athlete

  • Plowing festival – compassion, natural Samadhi and first jhana (meditative absorption)

  • Marriage at sixteen and then fatherhood in his late twenties

  • Life of hedonism

  • Venturing outside the palace

  • The four sights: aging, sickness, death and a sadhu

  • At twenty-nine he renounces his lay life of luxury and takes a vow to end the suffering of all sentient beings (Bodhisattva)

  • Asceticism and extremism

  • The middle way

  • Complete enlightenment (union of wisdom and compassion) at thirty-five

The buddha con t
The Buddha (con’t)

  • First turning of the wheel of Dharma

  • The development of the Sangha

  • The Three Jewels

  • Buddha, his Aunt, ordination and feminism

  • Buddha teaches for forty-five years and dies at the age of eighty

The buddha con t1
The Buddha (con’t):

  • Four Noble Truths:

    • The Truth of the Existence of Suffering

      • Three Types

      • Universal Suffering

    • The Truth of the Cause of Suffering

      • Three Poisons

    • The Truth of the Cessation of Suffering

      • The end of suffering is a possibility

    • The Path to the Cessation of Suffering

      • Noble eight fold path

1 st noble truth
1st Noble Truth

  • The Truth of Suffering:

    • Three Basic Types of Suffering:

      • Gross suffering

        • My head aches!

        • My feelings are hurt!

        • I’ve been shot!

      • The suffering of change

        • Eating, drinking, sex – pleasure becomes pain

        • What we want we chase, once caught we cease to want it and quickly become dissatisfied

        • The myth of desire (“You are my everything”)

      • Pervasive suffering

        • Having a mind under the influence of ignorance, attachment and anger

        • Having a human body

        • Having a human life

1 st noble truth con t
1st Noble Truth (con’t):

  • The Truth of Suffering:

    • Eight forms of universal suffering:

      • Birth

      • Aging

      • Sickness

      • Death

      • Being met with unfortunate circumstances beyond our control

      • Being separated from people, places, and things that we desire

      • Impermanence

      • Karma

2 nd noble truth
2nd Noble Truth

  • The Truth of the Cause of Suffering:

    • The Three Poisons:

      • Ignorance

      • Attachment

      • Anger

Poison 1 ignorance of self
Poison 1: Ignorance of Self

  • Western Perspective: Eternalism

    • Aristotle / Descartes / Newton:

      • “I” is eternal / permanent

      • “I” is independent

      • “I” is inherent

      • God (the creator) exists

      • The soul

Poison 1 ignorance of self1
Poison 1: Ignorance of Self

  • Western Perspective:

    • Descartes: “Cognito ergo sum”

    • Freud: “Where the id was, there the ego shall be”

    • Strong ego is affirmed as necessary for success in work, love and play

    • The ego is strengthened in therapy and low self-esteem is “corrected”

    • Fixed, continuous duality of observer and object

    • From the Buddhist perspective, western psychotherapy often seeks to reinforce and deepen the fundamental illusion of self (which is the root cause of our suffering as human beings). It is tantamount to treating a wound by rubbing dirt and filth into it

    • Question: Do physicians heal the body? Do psychologists heal the psyche?

Poison 1 ignorance of self2
Poison 1: Ignorance of Self

  • Eastern Perspective:

    • Hinduism:

      • “I” is impermanent

      • “I” is interdependent

      • “I” is inherent

      • God (the creator) exists

      • The soul or permanent self (atman)

Poison 1 ignorance of self3
Poison 1: Ignorance of Self

  • Eastern Perspective:

    • Hinduism:

      • Realization that self is a worldly construct

      • Attempts to actualize (through spiritual practice) the “true” or “real” self

      • Union of true self and God (Brahma)

Poison 1 ignorance of self4
Poison 1: Ignorance of Self

  • Eastern Perspective:

    • Buddhism:

      • “I” is impermanent

      • “I” is interdependent

      • “I” is not inherent

      • No God (the creator)

      • No soul / no self (anatman or annata)

Poison 1 ignorance of self5
Poison 1: Ignorance of Self

  • Eastern Perspective:

    • Buddhism:

      • The self (or ego) is a fundamental misapprehension that should be deconstructed on the most subtle and profound levels

      • Self (or ego) is formed as one attempts to avoid the experience of suffering and craves and grasps at the experience of pleasure

      • Self (or ego) should be deconstructed to reveal the truth of no self (anatman or anatta), compassion and emptiness

      • Through Shamatha and Vipassana the illusion of self (or ego) begins to dissipate as the meditator realizes the interconnectedness and impermanence of many life experiences and mental phenomena

  • Meditative Exercise (Impermanence of self)

Poison 2 and 3 attachment and anger
Poison 2 and 3: Attachment and Anger

  • Ignorance, attachment and anger

    • In Buddhist psychology the trio of misapprehension/ignorance, attachment/craving and anger/hatred are linked in a causal chain.

    • Anger ultimately arises from attachment to the people, places, and things of our lives. Attachment is a superimposition of exaggerated good (or bad) qualities onto people, places and things that do not inherently possess such qualities (Dalai Lama, 1997; Chodron, 2001a; Chodron, 2001b):

      • New car

      • New job

      • New mate, etc

Buddhism three poisons
Buddhism: Three Poisons

  • The joy and satisfaction of attachment are transitory and are impossible to sustain

  • Freud’s “Pleasure Principle”

  • Inevitably stemming from attachment to pleasurable stimuli, then, is a sense of dissatisfaction and frustration:

    • New car is relabeled “old car”

    • New job is relabeled “the grind”

    • New mate is relabeled “the ball and chain”

Buddhism three poisons1
Buddhism: Three Poisons

  • Buddhist Understanding of Anger (cont):

    • Existential frustration then becomes the fertile ground for the cultivation of anger (Dalai Lama, 1997).

      • Old car gets a flat and is relabeled “piece of crap.” Perhaps we curse at and kick the car.

      • “The grind” is forced to freeze raises in our salary and is relabeled “a prison.” Perhaps we feel entitled and justified in committing a hostile act like stealing office supplies.

      • “The ball and chain” is irritable one day and is relabeled “the bitch” or “the inconsiderate asshole.” Perhaps a heated and destructive argument later takes place. Perhaps this argument (and several more like it) is then used to justify an infidelity.

Buddhism three poisons2
Buddhism: Three Poisons

  • Buddhist Understanding of Attachment:






More balanced





2nd noble truth con t
2nd Noble Truth (con’t):

  • The three poisons lead to negative Karma

  • Karma: the idea that all actions of body, speech and mind have spiritual consequences – they leave “imprints”

  • Old Testament: to lust in one’s heart for another man’s wife is to have committed adultery

  • Karma is the ultimate spiritual responsibility

  • Causes and conditions

  • Karma can be manifested or purified

  • Reincarnation

  • No God / no judgment

  • No permanent hell

  • No savior

3 rd noble truth
3rd Noble Truth

  • The Buddha proved that the cessation of existential suffering (gross, change and pervasive) is a possibility

  • The Buddha taught that this is a possibility for all sentient beings

  • We must extinguish the three poisons from our mind streams and then our negative karma must be manifested or purified

  • How do we do all this????

4th noble truth
4th Noble Truth

  • The eight fold path to the cessation of suffering:

    • Right view

    • Right intention

    • Right speech

    • Right action

    • Right livelihood

    • Right effort

    • Right mindfulness

    • Right concentration

4th noble truth1
4th Noble Truth

  • The eight fold path to the cessation of suffering:

    • Two paths for the development of wisdom:

      • Right view (to become deeply and profoundly aware of the four noble truths; interdependence and emptiness)

      • Right intention (to become deeply committed to an ethical life such that every action of body, speech and mind is motivated by insight, kindness and compassion)

4th noble truth2
4th Noble Truth

  • The eight fold path to the cessation of suffering:

    • Three paths for the development of ethics:

      • Right speech (abstain from: false speech, slanderous speech, malicious speech, harsh speech and idle chatter).

      • Right action (abstain from killing, lying, stealing, sexual misconduct and intoxicants)

      • Right livelihood (any occupation that violates right speech and right action should be avoided, i.e., weapons and slave dealing, prostitution, butchery, etc)

4th noble truth3
4th Noble Truth

  • The eight fold path to the cessation of suffering:

    • Three paths for mental development:

      • Right effort (this is mental energy – to be aggressive and angry takes effort and similarly to be compassionate and kind takes effort)

      • Right mindfulness (here the mind is anchored in clear perceptions without being carried away by dualistic concepts like judgment and opinion – e.g., the table)

      • Right concentration (this is a single point of focus, the ability to focus the mind in its entirety on a single object of meditation and thereby create and sustain penetrative insight and realization; this path is specifically associated with the practice of meditation)


  • Emptiness is THE foundational Buddhist psychological concept:

    • All things exist interdependently (not independently)

    • All things exist in a context (not as stand alone objects)

    • All things exist temporarily (not permanently or eternally)

      • Ex. The train and the tea

      • Ex. A coffee table

  • Three Nature Theory:

    • Imputed

    • Dependent

    • Consummate

      • The first two actually construct reality. Ex. Halle Berry

      • The last is the empty nature of all phenomena and objects

  • “All things exist as a result of what we have thought” -Buddha

Emptiness of self
Emptiness of Self

  • “...meditation on emptiness begins with gaining a sense of the inherent existence of which phenomena are empty, for without understanding what is negated, you cannot understand its absence, emptiness...Through carefully watching how you conceive your self, or ‘I,’ to be inherently established, you will determine that the ‘I’ appears to be self-instituting without depending on the collection of the mental and physical aggregates, which are its basis of designation, or without depending on any of them individually, even though the ‘I’ appears with those aggregates. Proper identification of this appearance is the first essential toward realizing selflessness--ascertaining the object of negation.

  • --from Yoga Tantra: Paths to Magical Feats by H.H. the Dalai Lama

  • Emptiness of self1
    Emptiness of Self

    • “The self postulated by the extremists, When you thoroughly analyze it with reasoning, Within all the aggregates [of body and mind], Nowhere can you find a locus for this.” – Nagarjuna (2nd Century), A Commentary on the Awakening Mind

      • No known neural correlates for self

      • No known neural correlates for consciousness

    • Underlying all mental affliction is our belief in our identity – our permanent, eternal, independent selfhood. To release our grasp on this belief is to move towards mental health, peace and happiness.

    • Complete enlightenment is the union of method (compassion) and wisdom (emptiness)


    • Why are ethics necessary for mankind

    • What is the relationship between civilization and ethics?

    • What is the primary ethic of both medicine and psychology?

    • Why are ethics necessary for psychotherapy?

    • What is the relationship between successful psychotherapy and solid professional ethics?


    • Religious Ethics:

      • Judeo-Christian Tradition:

        • Seven Deadly Sins:

          • Envy

          • Gluttony

          • Greed

          • Lust

          • Pride

          • Sloth

          • Wrath


    • Religious Ethics:

      • Christian Tradition:

        • Sermon on the mount

          • Eye for an eye leads to turn the other cheek

          • Righteous injury leads to love your enemy

          • Absolute generosity is proclaimed (give to all who ask and give more than they asked for)

        • In later teachings Christ equates the internal experience (thoughts, feelings, fantasies, etc) of killing and lust to the actual physical acts of murder and adultery

        • In essence, Christ encourages mankind to work with the seven deadly sins.

        • Christ directs mankind to psychologically and spiritually recognize our own mental habits and to produce change from the inside out, for how else will one become able to love an enemy?

        • It is no longer enough to be angry but not sin (old testament), now man must begin to train his own mind and heart; he must begin to reshape his basic relationship with sin.

        • How one works with sin, though, is left rather vague (faith, prayer, etc)


    • Religious Ethics:

      • Buddhism:

        • Five Poisons:

          • Envy

          • Pride

          • Wrath

          • Attachment

          • Ignorance


    • Religious Ethics: Common Ground

      • Now the teaching of Christ and Buddha have overlap. From Robert Thurman’s book Anger (2005):

        • Once you realize the absolute loss pertaining to killing or even angrily thinking to do it, you reverse your worldly values. You realize that tolerance, meekness, and gentleness are a supreme evolutionary advantage, breaking the vicious cycle of mutual domination, developing a virtuous cycle of increasing vulnerability and tolerance… You begin to live more and more in the “Kingdom of God,” the domain of absolute strength, imperturbability, where nothing can harm you because of your ultimate flexibility beyond life and death, bliss beyond pain and pleasure. This is the domain wherein you can love not only your friends but also your enemies, wanting them all to be as happy as you, at the extreme end of the virtuous circle of mutual surrender beyond not only the hells of fire but also the temporary heavens of superficial pleasure, in the supreme bliss of freedom beyond all dualities such as self and other. (pg. 39)


    • Buddhism’s Ten Destructive Behaviors:

      • 1. Taking life 2. Taking what has not been given 3. Inappropriate sexual activity 4. Lying 5. Speaking divisively 6. Using harsh language 7. Speaking idle words 8. Thinking covetous thought 9. Thinking thoughts of malice10. Distorted, antagonistic thinking





    • Religious Ethics: All Major World Religions Agree:

      • Killing

      • Stealing

      • Lying

      • Sexual misconduct

      • Intoxicants


    • The Eight Mundane Concerns:

      • Most humans spend their lives chasing the left and avoiding the right:

        • Praise / Blame

        • Gain / Loss

        • Approval / Disapproval

        • Pleasurable stimuli / Unpleasant stimuli

    The six realms of existence
    The Six Realms of Existence

    • The Hell Realm (sociopaths, AIDS babies)

    • The Hungry Ghost Realm (alcoholics, junkies, anorexics)

    • The Animal Realm (Psychopaths, gang bangers)

    • The Human Realm

    • The Demi-God Realm (B-List celebrities, wealthy hedonists, millionaires)

    • The God Realm (A List celebrities, billionaires)


    • Samadhi is also termed as a “single point of focus” but is generalized within Buddhism and Hinduism

    • Shamatha is called mindfulness, calm abiding, and single point of focus

    • The relationship of attention and insight both meditatively and psychotherapeutically

    • Shamatha is spoken of as the foundation for meditative realizations in the Pali Cannon, the Lam Rim and the Bodhicharyavattara


    Shamatha (also known as calm abiding and single point of focus)

    • Settling the Body in its natural state

      • Object of meditation: Tactile sensations of the body

    • Settling the Speech in its natural state

      • Object of meditation: Abdominal sensations of respiration

      • Object of meditation: Sensations of respiration at the apertures of the nostrils

    • Settling the Mind in its natural state

      • Object of meditation: The space of the mind itself


    • Shamatha:

      • Settling the Body in Its Natural State

        • Session time – find a balance

        • Correct posture

        • Laxity and Excitation

        • Three deep breaths

        • Mind / Body relaxation

        • Begin with body scan – identify tension and create relaxation

        • Bring your awareness (consciousness / attention) to the tactile sensations of the body as a whole

        • Become disinterested in sight, auditory, taste, smell and mind stimuli (mental phenomena) – select the tactile sensations of the body as a whole only

        • Allow your breathing to settle into its natural rhythm

        • When you become distracted or lost in thought, recognize your distraction (observe it)

        • Bring your mind back to the object of meditation

        • Goat herder and his flock

        • 25% attention to my voice / 75% attention to the object of meditation

    What is mind
    What Is Mind?

    Start Session 2

    • Traditional Greek Senses:

      • Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch and Smell

    • Traditional Buddhist Senses:

      • Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch, Smell and MIND

      • What is Mind? Mind, in a gross yet practical sense, is that which experiences mental phenomena

      • What would be left if you were suspended in a sensory deprivation tank? That is mind.

    What is mind1
    What Is Mind?

    • Greek and European Philosophical Understandings of Emotion:

      • Socrates

      • Plato v. Aristotle

      • Aristotle and Logic – explaining ambivalence

      • Aristotle and anger

      • Seneca

      • Early Christian church and emotion as “the Beast Within” (e.g., 7 deadly sins are all emotions)

      • Descartes and Reason v. Emotion

      • Emotion as irrationality

    What is mind2
    What Is Mind?

    • Greek and European Philosophical Understanding (con’t):

      • The creation of a taboo of subjectivity

      • Because Aristotelian empiricism (as a mode of inquiry) is limited in its ability to explore and understand first-person phenomena (which is often also paradoxical by nature) many scientists mistakenly conclude that these phenomena simply can not be understood at all (Batchelor, 1997; Wallace, 2000; Wallace, 2003; Ekman et al, 2005).

    What is mind3
    What Is Mind?

    • Greek and European Philosophical Understanding (con’t):

      • Scientific materialism: the tendency to reify science as the only valid mode of inquiry for obtaining information about reality.

      • Exemplifying Scientific Materialism, Alfred Ayer in his 1936 treatise Language, Truth and Logic:

        • We conclude, therefore, that the argument from religious experience is altogether fallacious. The fact that people have religious experiences is interesting from the psychological point of view, but it does not in any way imply that there is such a thing as religious knowledge, any more than our having moral experiences implies that there is such a thing as moral knowledge. The theist, like the moralist, may believe that his experiences are cognitive experiences, but, unless he can formulate his "knowledge" in propositions that are empirically verifiable, we may be sure that he is deceiving himself.

    What is mind4
    What Is Mind?

    • Greek and European Philosophical Understanding (con’t):

      • It follows that these philosophers who fill their books with assertions that they intuitively "know" this or that moral or religious "truth" are merely providing material for the psycho-analyst. For no act of intuition can be said to reveal a truth about any matter of fact unless it issues in verifiable propositions. And all such propositions are to be incorporated in the system of empirical propositions which constitutes science. (pp119-120).

  • In one page Ayer dismisses 5,000 years of spiritual, philosophical and religious insight.

  • This attitude set the stage for psychology (as a fledgling field) to dismiss introspection as a valid mode of inquiry and to embrace scientific materialism at first in the form of behaviorism and now in the form of empiricism

  • What is emotion
    What Is Emotion?

    • Greek and European Philosophical Understanding (con’t):

      • The death of introspection around the turn of the 20th century

      • James and Freud v. Skinner

      • As Plutchik (2000) states in Emotions in the Practice of Psychotherapy:

        • Behaviorists held the view that the only truly reliable objective information obtainable about living creatures was information about their behavior (and preferably simple behavior). This attitude lead to a preoccupation with conditioned responses; emotions, on the other hand, were considered to be inner states that could not be reliably observed and were therefore outside the realm of scientific psychology. (p 40)

    What is emotion1
    What Is Emotion?

    • Greek and European Philosophical Understanding (con’t):

      • Aristotelian Logic: the laws of identity, contradiction and excluded middle

        • A is A (identity), that A is not non-A (contradiction) and that A is not A and non-A (excluded middle)

      • Obviously this logic can not apply to many mental phenomena (thought, emotion, judgment, opinion, memory, fantasy, impulse)

    Blind spot in scientific materialism
    Blind Spot in Scientific Materialism

    • No definition of consciousness

    • No objective, 3rd person means of detecting and measuring consciousness

    • No identified neural correlates for consciousness

    • No identified causes (both necessary and sufficient) for consciousness

    • No understanding of the relationship between consciousness and mental phenomena

    • No understanding of how the brain creates and manipulates mental phenomena

    • William James and Wilhelm Wundt tried to remedy this over a century ago

    What is mind5
    What Is Mind?

    • Modern Psychological Understanding:

      • Is it possible to understand mental phenomena from the inside out? The contemplative traditions of the world say that it is possible

      • The modern, scientific endeavor is to understand mental phenomena from the outside in (PET, CAT, MRI. Etc)

      • Modern science / empiricism is not qualified to define, explain or predict mental phenomena

      • If three core tenets of any science are systematization, quantification and reproducibility then on some level could meditation (the methods of working with mental phenomena) be considered a valid science of the mind?

    What is emotion2
    What Is Emotion?

    • Five Core Psychological Perspectives:

      • The evolutionary tradition: Charles Darwin

      • The Psycho-physiological tradition: William James and the behavior/body before mind argument.

      • The Neurological tradition: Cannon’s “sham rage” in the hypothalamus of cats.

      • The Psychodynamic tradition: id, repression and subconscious.

      • The Cognitive tradition: emotions and our reactions to them become habituated

    What is emotion3
    What Is Emotion?

    • Evolutionary Psychology:

      • The evolutionary tradition: The ability of an animal to use expressive behavior to communicate information (danger, safety, etc) greatly adds to the survivability of that animal and is therefore adaptive (Darwin, 1872/1965) .

      • In a unique and forward looking leap, Darwin recognized that the process of evolution applies not only to an animal’s genetic and physiological structures but also to the animal’s emotional and behavioral expressions (Darwin, 1872/1965).

        • The ability of an animal to use expressive behavior to communicate information (danger, safety, etc) greatly adds to the survivability of that animal and is therefore adaptive.

        • Darwin felt similarly about emotional expression and furthermore concluded that most emotional expression is innate and therefore unlearned (Darwin, 1872/1965).

      • Darwin’s work expanded the study of emotion from the study of subjective feelings to the study of behavior within a biological, evolutionary context. It became scientifically legitimate to ask the question, “In what way does a particular emotion or behavior pattern function in aiding survival?

    What is emotion4
    What Is Emotion?

    • The Psycho-physiological Tradition :

      • The psychophysiological tradition is most identified with the work of the Harvard psychologist-philosopher William James.

      • Twelve years after Darwin published his work on emotion, James (1884) published an article that founded a second theory of emotion, one primarily concerned with the sequence of events in emotional experience.

      • James asked the question: which comes first, emotion or behavior? In essence, does the fact that we run away from a predator cause the emotional experience of fear or does the emotional experience of fear cause the behavior of running away from the predator?

      • James himself came down firmly on the side of behavior before emotion. As James (1890) stated, “common sense says we lose our fortune, are sorry and weep;… [My] hypothesis… is that we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble.” (p. 1066). In an attempt to prove or disprove James’ hypothesis, a tremendous amount of research has been conducted over the last century. While inconclusive about James’ hypothesis, this research, has produced significant advances in our understanding of autonomic physiology, arousal, lie detection and other areas (Plutchik, 2000).

    What is emotion5
    What Is Emotion?

    • The NeurologicalTradition :

      • Walter Cannon, another Harvard professor, conducted medical research on domestic cats and discovered that the hypothalamus was the neurological seat of emotion

      • A few years after James’ death, Cannon (1929) removed certain parts of the brain in cats and discovered that he could create a “sham rage” that would last between two and three hours.

      • In essence, Cannon discovered that there are neural correlates for emotion.

      • Based on these results, Cannon directly challenged James’ strict hypothesis of behavior before emotion.

      • His work also inspired related research that set the basis for advanced neurological research along with the psychopharmacological treatment of mental disorders (Plutchik, 2000).

    What is emotion6
    What Is Emotion?

    • The PsychodynamicTradition :

      • Working on the condition called hysteria, Freud and Breuer (1895/1936) published Studies on Hysteria, which described a new theory about the genesis of psychiatric illness.

      • Within this larger topic, the book also set the stage for a new theory of emotion (Plutchik, 2000).

      • Although Freud initially utilized hypnosis as a treatment method he later developed free association as the primary means by which patients would make conscious repressed memories and emotions.

      • The point of therapy was thereby transformed from abreaction to a process where unconscious motivations were brought into conscious awareness and replaced with volitional judgments (very Buddhist  ).

      • Over the course of decades Freud developed a complex theory of neuroses that had within it (as an implicit part) a theory of emotion.

      • This implicit theory proposed an extremely complex interaction of drives, developmental stages, conflicts and personality developments.

      • Even today, an agreed upon theory of emotion does not exist in the various branches of psychoanalysis.

    What is emotion7
    What Is Emotion?

    • Cognitive Psychology:

      • The cognitive tradition: The work of Fritz Heider (1958) is the historical foundation of the fifth main tradition: cognitive psychology.

      • Cognitive psychology was the first to markedly point out the contextual reality of our emotional worlds.

      • Heider talked of our casual attributions, our sense of what “ought to be,” and our personal goals (that we superimpose onto the world) as being some of the forces that create our emotions.

      • Heider also connected the dots between thoughts and emotions saying that our affect often creates thought and then that a thought often creates an affect.

      • In this way Heider saw that the emotional life of man was foundationally self-created from one’s own perspectives, attitudes, beliefs and perceptions, emotions

      • Our reactions to these mental phenomena become habituated (i.e., we develop emotional habits)

    What is anger
    What Is Anger?

    • As Paul Ekman (2003) said in his book Emotions Revealed: “The word anger covers many different related experiences. There is a range of angry feelings, from slight annoyance to rage. There are not just differences in the strength of angry feeling, but also differences in the type of anger felt. Indignation is self-righteous anger; sulking is a passive anger; exasperation refers to having one’s patience tried excessively… resentment is another member of the anger family of emotions but holding a grudge, a long standing resentment, is different… It is not that you are continuously angry, but whenever you think about or see this person, anger reemerges… Hatred is enduring, intense dislike. We are not angry continuously towards the hated person, but encountering that person or hearing about him or her may easily awaken angry feelings. We are likely to feel disgust or contempt towards the hated person… It is hard to classify hatred and enduring resentment. They are not emotions, for they last too long. They are not moods for the same reason, and also because we know why we hate or resent someone while we typically don’t know why we are having a mood.” (pp. 112-113).

    Working with emotion
    Working with Emotion

    • Western Perspective:

      • In the West, we tend to take an adversarial approach to our suffering (trying to destroy it, numb it out, deny it or fix it)

      • In the West when we suffer, we think that means something is wrong, almost as if our life should not include suffering

      • Freud’s radical technique: free association

        • Learning to open, look, and analyze our mental experiences

    Working with emotion1
    Working with Emotion

    • Western Perspective:

      • Rogerian unconditional positive regard

        • teaching self compassion as a means of generating compassion for others

      • Cognitive psychology and the union of perception and personal reality

        • Buddhist psychology would agree

      • Kohut and Self psychology

        • Creating a better house

      • Cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to make practical the salubrious effects of psychotherapy

        • Criticisms of insight and supportive therapy

      • CBT’s limited efficacy with addiction, high risk youths and domestic violence

      • CBT and anger management – low efficacy

    Working with emotion2
    Working with Emotion

    • Buddhist Perspective:

      • Ask ten psychologists what consciousness is and see what happens. Ask ten psychologists what emotion is and see what happens. Ask ten physicists what gravity is and see what happens.

      • At present, there are over thirty different theories of emotion in the field of psychology

      • Medical model and the pathology model and why these do not work well with the goal of understanding and working with mind

        • Positive Psychology

        • Good Lives model for sex offenders

      • In Buddhist psychology suffering is to be expected, recognized, acknowledged, accepted, learned from and then transformed

      • “Sakya God” myth of Buddhism

      • Is anger a thing to be managed?

      • “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” – Shakymuni Buddha

    Working with emotion con t
    Working with Emotion (con’t):

    • Buddhist Meditations presented in this class:

      • Shamatha (also known as calm abiding and single point of focus)

        • Settling the Body in its natural state

        • Settling the Speech in its natural state

        • Settling the Mind in its natural state

      • Shamatha without a Sign

      • The Nature of Suffering

      • Friend, Foe and Stranger

      • Tong Len

      • Loving Kindness and interdependence (Metta)

    What is meditation
    What Is Meditation?

    • Meditation is slowing down

    • Meditation is learning to stay

    • Meditation is becoming educated about your “hooks,” your “limits,” and your “exit doors.”

    • Shamatha cultivates three things: relaxation of body and mind, mental stabilization (concentration), and mental vividness

    What are your limits and hooks
    What Are Your Limits and Hooks?

    Getting cut off in traffic (we get hooked by our anger)


    We come home and our spouse is wrapped up in her day and is insensitive to our feelings (we now reach our limit)

    We tell ourselves stories starring us as the victim or unsung hero

    We assign blame and become fundamental and righteous

    Emotional Overwhelm

    Anger and victimhood doesn’t feel good, we are very uncomfortable, and now we look for an exit door

    What are your exits doors
    What Are Your Exits Doors?

    Exit Door #3

    Feeling overwhelmed with: anger, irritation, frustration, anxiety, fear, sadness, mourning, depression, grief, shock, etc

    Materialism / We Crave and Seek (“retail therapy,” buying bigger and better things, splurging)

    Exit Door #2

    Anger / Aggression (we yell, condemn and put others down, quietly intimidate, threaten, passive-aggressive manipulation, assault, etc)

    Exit Door #1

    Numb Out (drugs, alcohol, food, sex, TV, Xbox, etc)

    Mind training
    Mind Training

    • From the Buddhist perspective one must simultaneously:

      • Decrease the grip of the three poisons by meditating on their essential nature AND

      • Meditate on the benefits of loving kindness and compassion thereby naturally increasing their presence in your mind

    • In essence, Buddhist meditation seek to eliminate negative emotions while simultaneously replacing them with positive emotions

    Seven points of mind training
    Seven Points of Mind Training

    • From the Buddhist perspective one must simultaneously:

      • Decrease the grip of the three poisons by meditating on their essential nature AND

      • Meditate on the benefits of loving kindness and compassion thereby naturally increasing their presence in your mind

    • In essence, Buddhist meditation seek to eliminate negative emotions while simultaneously replacing them with positive emotions