Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

A forum for those wishing to discuss Buddhist history and teachings in the Western academic manner, referencing appropriate sources.
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 11689
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

Meditation is "artificial" until it falls away.."self liberate even the antidote" as the Lojong slogans say.

So is Buddhism for that matter, meditation and dharma are an illusion to help us finally shed all illusions. I think this is spelled out pretty well in the tradition. Orthodox religionists might avoid this for their own reasons.
But, alas, from this criticism meditation and the Buddhist tradition would not be immune either.
It's not. As I mentioned earlier, there are all sorts of meditation texts warning of the terrible and or/confusing experiences that arise from meditation going in the wrong direction. We also know that for some people forms of meditation can be unhealthy. Again, a piece of modernity that is backed up by Buddhist tradition, rather than opposed to it.
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
User avatar
Johnny Dangerous
Global Moderator
Posts: 11689
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2012 10:58 pm
Location: Olympia WA
Contact:

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

DiabloRojo wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:57 am
Malcolm wrote: Mon Oct 05, 2020 3:46 pm
DiabloRojo wrote: Sun Oct 04, 2020 4:53 am
What makes no-self not like depersonalization?
Loving kindness.
What makes emptiness not like derealization?
Compassion.
What makes detachment not like dissociation?
Bodhicitta.
In this case depersonalization experienced as a positive thing with accompanying lovingkindness defines it as a quality of enlightenment whereas depersonalization with neutral or negative emotional affect defines it as pathology. I'm still looking for how the content of seeing yourself without a self and the world as in some sense illusory is differentiated from the hypothetical experience of a mental case or a meditator. Religious epiphanies are characteristic of psychosis so you could say that the crazy has a spiritual side or that the spiritual has a crazy side but there is definitely some connection. People are simply more inclined to accept something as spiritual if it fits within their framework of acceptability.

DR
You don't "see yourself without a self"..that's sort of the point, that form of perception vanishes, albeit temporarily for sentient beings....we stop seeing things through the lens of "I and mine". So not-self is not just some intellectual belief that you don't have a self. Beliefs change on our whims,
"...if you think about how many hours, months and years of your life you've spent looking at things, being fascinated by things that have now passed away, then how wonderful to spend even five minutes looking into the nature of your own mind."

-James Low
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 4187
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

DiabloRojo wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:09 am
Recognizing this perspective that absolute enlightenment is not a state of mind I would just add that the Buddhist tradition does spend quite a bit of paper describing different mental states one might experience through samadhi or satori. The relevance here is in regard to having an experience that changes your perception of what reality is. Someone could meditate their way into an experience of no-self. Perhaps meditation is as artificial as a sensory deprivation tank. I don't think it is per se, but when investigating claims made around meditation and Buddhism it seems significant to notice that people have all sorts of spiritual (and hellish) experiences through sensory deprivation, acute stress, mental disorder, intoxication and meditation. Meditation is considered a method of investigating truth because it can yield certain results. We find other conditions, practices and situations can yield similar results. Of course we could judge some of these causes based on negative effects produced. But, alas, from this criticism meditation and the Buddhist tradition would not be immune either.

DR
What you are failing to examine is where the point of similarity rests. Where you are placing it is leading you to a faulty conclusion.
It’s like saying a madman with a knife who runs around slashing people is essentially the same as a surgeon removing a diseased organ, because the the point of similarity is that they both are wielding a sharp knife, and cutting into people.
“They are both cutting people, so, it’s basically the same thing”.

In this case, the knife is “changing your perception of what reality is” (to quote you from the above paragraph) and likewise, the difference is that the Buddhist removes confusion about what reality is, and the patient suffering from disassociation et al is simply compounding their confusion about what reality is.
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
Schrödinger’s Yidam
Posts: 7199
Joined: Wed May 29, 2013 6:13 am

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by Schrödinger’s Yidam »


What you are failing to examine is where the point of similarity rests. Where you are placing it is leading you to a faulty conclusion.
It’s like saying a madman with a knife who runs around slashing people is essentially the same as a surgeon removing a diseased organ, because the the point of similarity is that they both are wielding a sharp knife, and cutting into people.
“They are both cutting people, so, it’s basically the same thing”.
:good:
1.The problem isn’t ‘ignorance’. The problem is the mind you have right now. (H.H. Karmapa XVII @NYC 2/4/18)
2. I support Mingyur R and HHDL in their positions against lama abuse.
3. Student: Lama, I thought I might die but then I realized that the 3 Jewels would protect me.
Lama: Even If you had died the 3 Jewels would still have protected you. (DW post by Fortyeightvows)
User avatar
FiveSkandhas
Posts: 191
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:40 pm

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by FiveSkandhas »

DiabloRojo wrote: Sun Oct 04, 2020 4:53 am
I could put it like this:

What makes no-self not like depersonalization?
What makes emptiness not like ?
What makes detachment not like dissociation?
depersonalization, derealization, and dissociation are all defined as pathological states.

The realization of No-Self, emptiness, and (compassionate and balanced) detachment are all aspects of liberation.

“The psychotic drowns in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight.”
-Joseph Campbell
"One should cultivate contemplation in one’s foibles. The foibles are like fish, and contemplation is like fishing hooks. If there are no fish, then the fishing hooks have no use. The bigger the fish is, the better the result we will get. As long as the fishing hooks keep at it, all foibles will eventually be contained and controlled at will." -Zhiyi
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 4187
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

“The difference between a madman and myself,
is that I am not mad!”
—Salavador Dali
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
steveb1
Posts: 692
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2011 9:37 am

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by steveb1 »

DiabloRojo wrote: Fri Oct 09, 2020 5:09 am
steveb1 wrote: Tue Oct 06, 2020 8:04 pm Well, my wholly amateurish reply would be to invoke the cliche that it is neither the mind nor the ego that "gets enlightened". That is, the emergence of Bodhi cannot be identified with, or reduced to, mere psychology. This is why I tend to be mistrustful of views that attempt to explain the Unconditioned by the (mentally/neurologically) conditioned, the Unborn by the (nature and nurture) born, and attempt to deal with the qualitative in terms of the quantitative. As regards normative human (ego) psychology, "enlightenment is not a state of mind".
Recognizing this perspective that absolute enlightenment is not a state of mind I would just add that the Buddhist tradition does spend quite a bit of paper describing different mental states one might experience through samadhi or satori. The relevance here is in regard to having an experience that changes your perception of what reality is. Someone could meditate their way into an experience of no-self. Perhaps meditation is as artificial as a sensory deprivation tank. I don't think it is per se, but when investigating claims made around meditation and Buddhism it seems significant to notice that people have all sorts of spiritual (and hellish) experiences through sensory deprivation, acute stress, mental disorder, intoxication and meditation. Meditation is considered a method of investigating truth because it can yield certain results. We find other conditions, practices and situations can yield similar results. Of course we could judge some of these causes based on negative effects produced. But, alas, from this criticism meditation and the Buddhist tradition would not be immune either.

DR
I appreciate your nuanced reply. Yes, we can have experiences, in or outside of meditation that change our reality-perception(s) and therefore our reality.
tkp67
Posts: 2127
Joined: Sun May 12, 2019 5:42 am

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by tkp67 »

What I find interesting is the newly emerging neurological findings that show the influence of these practices on the brain via brain scan.

They use accomplished masters as a baseline in some of these tests which shows the neurological implications of these practices. They do this on a granular basis and juxtapose a "normal" test subject(s).

They even show that some granular practices on their own achieve similar means but here is where I can see a great danger in interpretation it as they are equal because it doesn't measure these effects over the term. Buddhist masters have applied practice over a term and isn't an ephemeral experience.

Some of these test aren't measuring lasting change but simply show the difference in brain activity based on a specific state (meditative for example).

For practitioners who treat mental illness especially buddhist ones there is an opportunity to use specific methods to effect certain symptoms such as anxiety in those who are not prepared or capable at that time to embrace a buddhist practice.

One of my therapists incorporated zen meditation into his practice and I had practiced with him at it was live changing from a therapeutic standpoint. It validated a state of mind words can't express. It didn't replace or impinge my practice either. I am really grateful for the experience tbh. It was serendipitous as well.

I can't imagine reverse engineering it and achieving the same result but this is simply my perspective on my own experience. Traditions have framework that act as a compass as one experiences ebb and flow in the human condition. For myself I would fear that portion being left out.
Crazywisdom
Posts: 2352
Joined: Fri May 23, 2014 5:48 pm

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by Crazywisdom »

The key difference is the social context. Western psychology is evaluating one's orientation to Western social norms.

Dharma is orienting a person within the Sangha and vinaya or samaya.
User avatar
PadmaVonSamba
Posts: 4187
Joined: Sat May 14, 2011 1:41 am

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

This issue recently popped up. A close friend of mine told me that she thinks Buddhism leads people to become cut off from emotion, or the emotional aspect of experiencing life (and as an extension to that, expressed her concern for my own well-being).
I cited a few examples of how I am certainly not cut off from emotion. I get wet eyes watching movies, and even avoid a lot of TV drama because it disturbs my “mental equilibrium” if you want to call it that.
The other person, by the way, tends to have (in my view) strong emotional responses to just about everything. She’s not bipolar, but if something makes her angry, for example, it makes her really angry. She also tends to take things that occur in her life very personally, even if (in my opinion) they aren’t specifically about her.

So, this just makes me wonder whether there really is some kind of “objective” mid-way point that is best for everyone, or whether some people are by nature very emotionally reactive to everything, while others are just a bit more even tempered by nature.

It seems to me that the answer is, everybody is different.

But, if that’s the case, how does this suggest applying the teachings to those who are predisposed to (and perhaps not suffering from) emotional extremes?

It has been my experience that people who at one time were easily angered, or easily excited, now after practicing meditation and/or other Buddhist practices say they are happier and more content with life, as they are no longer being “pushed around” by whatever emotion shows up.

At the same time, my experiences with people lead me to think that there are many who are simply happier succumbing to every emotional whim, who enjoy constant striving, who experience perpetual dissatisfaction not as suffering, but rather, as a life motivator. They will have no more use for “calm abiding” meditation, than would a scurrying chipmunk. It’s just not in their “nature” (but doesn’t the idea of such a fixed “nature” contradict the ‘truth’ of the teachings?)

It can be argued, of course, that such is karmically driven and will also lead subsequently to unfavorable rebirths and so on, but that’s taking the discussion in a different direction.

What do you think? Of course, the Buddhist path itself is not the path for everyone. Nobody disputes this. My question is whether the “truth” ...of suffering, it’s cause, the truth of the teachings in general, applies to everyone in a similar way, or in fundamentally different ways, or perhaps not at all?
What do you think?
EMPTIFUL.
An inward outlook develops outward insight.
YesheD.
Posts: 20
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2020 7:14 am

Re: Eastern Enlightenment Vs. Western Psychopathology

Post by YesheD. »

Crazywisdom wrote: Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:31 pm The key difference is the social context. Western psychology is evaluating one's orientation to Western social norms.

Dharma is orienting a person within the Sangha and vinaya or samaya.
That’s a good point. There is a tendency to dismiss psychology, but actually on its own terms it can be successful In adjusting people to their daily agreed reality. Which may give them a platform from which to explore the Dharma.
Post Reply

Return to “Academic Discussion”