Western Psychology and Buddhism
Western psychology is concerned with the investigation of understanding the negative aspects of human behavior, emotions and the mind, and to some extent, with changing them. The Buddhist approach to the investigation of the mind is unscientific, as defined by the science of Western Psychology. It is not concerned with laboratory conditions, control groups, or ‘objectivity’ in the sense of the experimenter being separate from and impartial to the subject (Nettle, 2005). In Buddhism, the person conducting the experiment and the subject are the same. Buddhists seek truth, as do scientists. Science, for the most part, sees the world as something external, which can be observed and understood as truth. Psychology involves understanding the human experience through the study of the mind and how perception governs behavior. Buddhism sees perception as internal and of one’s experience of the outside world as a fundamental part of understanding the truth within our self.
Buddhism is known for happiness. Happiness can be achieved by genuinely practicing meditation. Meditation is the central practice of Buddhism. Practicing Buddhism gives one a way of finding answers to deep questions about life and the nature of reality. “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “What is the meaning of life?” “Why do we suffer?” and “How can I achieve lasting happiness?” As the Dalai Lama commented,
I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness (Dalai Lama & Cutler, 1998, p. 15).
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Prager, D. (1997). Happiness is a serious problem: A human nature repair manual. NY: HarperCollins Publishers
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Seligman, M, & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction: American Psychologist, 55, 5-14.
Wallace, B. L., & Shapiro, S. L. (2006). Mental balance and well-being. Building bridges between buddhism and western psychology, 61(7), 690-699.
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