January 29, 2009

Buddhism and Psychology

Buddhism is often considered to be a philosophy more than a religion. But perhaps, it's also closer to a psychological theory than even a philosophy. Much of the Buddhist writings talk about what suffering is, what creates suffering, and how the human mind makes suffering worse. Mindfulness and meditation are ways of softening and training the mind to accept and understand.

Sounds a lot like therapy to me.

When I came across The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Komfield, I was immediately intrigued. I downloaded a sample chapter to my Kindle, and was hooked immediately.

22 out of 26 people who reviewed it gave it a five star rating, so I bought it right then and there, downloaded it to my Kindle, and I have been reading it, ahem, religiously.

I like how Komfield interweaves Western psychology and Eastern Buddhism into each other. He compares and contrasts, and suggests alternative ways to approach psychology in a gentle, non-attached way, to awaken our Buddha nature.

Reframing our ideas of psychology and therapy as a way to "fix" things, it can be a practice, and a way to open up to life, and wake up to life. "You are perfect the way you are. And...there is still room for improvement!" is a quote that Komfield uses to explain the general approach to Buddhist psychology.

I'm very picky when it comes to writing style and "voice", and I like Komfield's quite a bit. It's easy to read, unassuming, and non-academic.

There are some parts at the end of the book, however, that get a little preachy for me. But by then, I was so in love with the rest of it, I was able to skim over those parts and let go that they bothered me.

I thought I'd share my experience with you. If you are interested in Buddhism and psychology, this is a great book to get the best of both worlds.

1 comment:

MikeC said...

Looks like good reading. Anything that Anne Lamott endorses gets my attention.