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An introduction to Buddhist Psychology and Counselling: Pathways of Mindfulness-Based Therapies: Fifth edition

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Abstract

This book, now in its fifth edition, provides a comprehensive introduction to Buddhist psychology and counselling, exploring key concepts in psychology and practical applications in mindfulness-based counselling techniques using Buddhist philosophy of mind, psychology, ethics and contemplative methods.
... As described in Buddhist teachings, volition itself can influence other volitional activities. For example, the cultivation of patience, self-control (engaging in ethical behavior, etc.) and nurturing positive emotions such as compassion and forgiveness are described as supporting the progress of meditation practice (Analayo, 2006;Bodhi, 1995;De Silva, 2014). ...
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The purpose of this article is to explore a model of the mind generally known as “the five aggregates” described in Buddhist teachings that relates to understanding subjective conscious experience from a first-person perspective. This model is explored as a potential theoretical resource that could guide meditation/mindfulness interventions. According to the five-aggregate model of the mind, all our experience involves material form, feelings, perception, volition, and sensory consciousness. The mind stream that is constantly changing from moment to moment is extensively analyzed in this tradition. This article explains that methodologies in neuroscience increase our understanding of neurophysiological underpinnings of mental phenomena and also provide important evidence on the practical utility of meditation. When considering moment-by-moment changes that happen in the mind, however, these investigations represent sensory consciousness followed by perception that happens within the mind stream itself. Practical applications of the model are also presented.
... 5 element is interdependent, and there is no way to locate an unchanging 'I', not even in a fixed relationship with other elements, only inter-relationship and co-existence. It is mistaking this relationship that is constantly in a flux as something permanent or unchanging that leads us into sufferings rather than seeing clearly their interdependence (de Silva, 2014). To put it simply, it is more of an antidote to the over-reliance on or over-identification of the interdependent self-construal variables that distorted their world views and impeded their social functioning. ...
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This short opinion piece raises an important point about the universality of mindfulness-based programs. The currently established mindfulness programs delivered worldwide are modeled mainly on the original Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program structure. Taken out from its original Buddhist context and developed in the West originally for Western practitioners, mindfulness techniques and definitions are now re-exporting back to Asia, gaining popularity in Asia. Studies in self-construal have pointed out the cultural differences between the West and the East. Hence the suitability of Western-developed programs would need to be re-examined. And there could be significant implications for the design and adaptation of mindfulness-based programs delivered across cultures.
... However, this perception that the effects of emotions are the effects of emotions-as opposed to the effects of emotion gestalts-diminishes the richness of the gestalt experience. We draw from mindfulness philosophy (Brach, 2017;Langer and Moldoveanu, 2000), and Buddhist psychology (de Silva, 2014;Kornfield, 2008) to argue for that richness by showing that regardless of whether experiences are perceived as pleasant or unpleasant in salience, all conceptual emotions are connected with the phenomenological experience of "dukkha," that is, discomfort (de Silva, 2005;Kornfield, 2008;Vyner, 2018) in latency and persistence. ...
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An ongoing debate exists regarding the ontology of emotions; that is, whether emotions are innate biological artifacts, social/discursive constructions, or-although less common in emotion research-both. Growing neuroscientific research provides strong evidence for the third perspective. Yet, this work foregrounds the individual's experience, overlooking the role and context of organizing. In this article, we developed a new perspective of emotions and organizing. Our "gestalt" framework unites innate, socially constructed, and discursive ontologies to explain how emotions exist as innate yet latent organizational potentialities, become salient through social interaction, and are embedded in organizations through discourse. Together, these aspects comprise the gestalt emotion experience-where the whole is something more than its parts. The gestalt view offers organizational actors and scholars practical wisdom for navigating and analyzing emotions in organizations.
... In later work, De Silva (2014), distances himself from the unconscious belief model of anusaya and instead focuses on the idea that they have a subliminal influence on our consciousness by motivating us towards concrete goals in a tacit way (2014, pp. 34-35). ...
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In this paper, I explore a debate between some Indian Buddhist schools regarding the nature of the underlying tendencies or anusaya-s. I focus here primarily on the ninth chapter of Kathāvatthu’s representation of a dispute about whether an anusaya can be said to have intentional object. I also briefly treat of Vasubandhu’s defense of the Sautrāntika view of anuśaya in the opening section of the fifth chapter his Abhidharmakośabhāṣyam. Following Vasubandhu, I argue against the Thervādin Abhidharmikas that the underlying tendencies (anusaya-s) can be identified with their active manifestations (pariyuṭṭhāna). Etymologically, the notion of anusaya denotes a kind of latency, dormancy or otherwise ‘below the surface’ propensity. It can literally be translated as ‘that which lies or dwells beneath or alongside’. I will translate the term as ‘underlying tendency’, but philosophically speaking, it is most important to understand that the notion of anusaya refers to dispositions that condition current experience in a tacit way. The task of a philosophical account of the anusaya-s is to explain how their implicit conditioning influence shapes occurrent mental activity. The Indian Buddhist philosophers exercised an enormous amount of energy in attempting to explain this relation. A thorough examination of this dialectic has two important fruits to bear. The first is that the Buddhists can help us explain in precise detail how the mind is affectively layered. That is, they have a plausible account of how the mind is both responsive in real time to the objects it encounters in the world, while at the same time being tacitly conditioned by its own history of affective bias. Indeed, as we will see, the Buddhists were deeply concerned with how processes of affective bias were operating at the deepest levels of the mind and how we ought to conceive of their influence on our ordinary processes of perception and cognition. Second, this local position within the Buddhist milieu is indicative of a wider propensity in Buddhist philosophy to blend analyses of affectively-biased intentions and causation. I submit that this blending could be helpful in a more global for contemporary discussions of the mind in philosophy and science.
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Having looked at the nature of conflicts, it is necessary to briefly present a Buddhist perspective on mental balance and harmony, both at the secular level and the spiritual level. Well-being, which is described by the Buddhist term sukha, is a relatively enduring form of happiness. Buddhism advocates balance at four levels: conative balance dealing with human goals, affective balance referring to freedom from excessive emotional vacillation, cognitive balance implying being touch with reality, and attentional balance focused on mindfulness which pervades all other facets. A higher-level spiritual attainment and equanimity is beyond the dimension of normal happiness and harmony.
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This paper examines knowledge construction and education informed by Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and their subordination to Western knowledge construction and education during the British colonial period. Taking the writings of a bilingual Buddhist scholar-philosopher on Buddhist concepts, approach and theory as the basis, the author considers how they can be used for transforming contemporary education characterised by self assertion and self actualisation. The author is critical of the rationalist-empirical approach to education advocated and adopted by modern social sciences. As an alternative, the paper presents details of virtuous form of education based on Buddhist values, ethics and contemplation capable of addressing issues facing individuals and societies.
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Self-control is the virtue of living according to a person’s accepted moral values. He should have the capacity to do so by his skills with courage and persistence. Lack of self-control is described as “weakness of will”. Aristotle made a distinction between the incontinent man who gives into sensual passions, knowing that it is morally unacceptable, while with the intemperate man it is second nature to give into sensual passions and has no qualms about its moral implications. Aristotle says that the incontinent man can readily be persuaded to change his future behaviour. Socrates was presenting a one-track ‘cognitive’ theory where knowledge automatically leads to action. In a Buddhist Perspective on Weakness of Will: Mindfulness lies at the core of Buddhist meditative practice, yet its essence is universal. It has to do with refining our capacities for paying attention, for sustained and penetrative awareness.
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It was Ekman (Emotions revealed, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2007) who re-discovered the work of Darwin as a contribution to emotion studies. He expanded the area of research to produce a facial coding system of emotions and was engaged in a historic dialogue with The Dalai Lama on Buddhist pathways for managing negative emotions . Darwin’s classic work, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, has remained one of the classics of all time and the legacy was received by William James who inherited a strong Darwinian flavour in his revolutionary analysis of emotions. Darwin’s thesis on emotions was the product of an evolutionary perspective, and the book was on animal behaviour. Sigmund Freud’s contribution, in contrast, is described as an ideogenic revolution as different from a somatic perspective.
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The historical background to the present book is found in the emergence of Somatic Psychology and body-oriented therapies, presented as an excellent narrative by Barratt (The emergence of somatic psychology and bodymind therapy, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2013). The present work goes beyond this study, introducing the more recent development of somatic intelligence , very much visible in the work and writings of Jon Kabat-Zinn , Risa Kaparo and Vidyamala Burch to whom this book is dedicated as a mark of appreciation. But the present book works on a larger area in focussing on theories of the relationship between the body and emotions, the linkages between mindfulness -based emotion studies and neuroscience and meditation.
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Traditional sensory neuropsychology that dominated pain research was influenced by Cartesian Dualism: the brain detects and perceives pathological processes passively and mechanically—they looked at the body and mind as separate entities. According to this new view, pain is subjective and physical pain is invariably tied to our emotions. Pure pain is never detected as an isolated phenomenon as it is always accompanied by emotion and meaning to each individual. There is a difference between primary pain and secondary pain as secondary pain is bound up with physical and emotional responses. Craig Hassad says that the second layer to physical pain may be described as STRESS. (i) Stress increases the output of inflammatory chemicals, we have poured fuel on the inflammatory fire. (ii) Secondly, we may be physically tensed and stressed , which may add to the muscle spasms that is presented at the site of pain.
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Contemporary research in emotion studies clearly indicates that the bifurcation of emotions as different from logic and rationality is a wrong move. Philosophers like Antonio Damasio say that the thesis that unfolds is that emotions, far from being sand in the machinery of action, actually promote rational action in situations of indeterminacy. My own work on the componential theory of emotions indicates that emotions have a rich texture with components of feelings, desires, sentiments, reasons, intentions and volitions or, briefly, cognitive, affective and conative components.
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Greed is one of the seven deadly sins in Christianity and has a wide ranging vocabulary: acquisitiveness, covetousness, cupidity, and entanglement while the quiet and sombre virtues are humility, charity, and veracity. The entanglement that the Buddhist describes as clinging (upadana) is something that happens according to the nature of laws that govern us, the psychological, moral, and the laws of the Dhamma that governs us. Imagine a boy making a beautiful sandcastle and he is so thrilled, he adds layer by layer and at a certain point it collapses. During the financial crisis people were fooled by their assumed omnipotence ‘building sand castles’ and the Buddha says respect the lawful nature of things. Ajahn Brahm’s beautiful parable which I have quoted is a satire on the limits of human greed.
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Fear in the Buddhist discourses appear under psychological, ethical, and religious contexts. In the psychological context Buddhism refers to the subliminal facets of fear and anxiety, as is also presented by Ledoux in emotion studies. Under the ethical, we get the Buddhist notion of shame of evil and dread of evil and from a psychological point of view morally deficient fears are also based on attachments. The roots of delusion, greed, grasping and attachment are at the base of fear and anxiety. Even a monk gone to the forest, if defilements are present in him, this causes fear and dread. Existentialist thinking has their own interpretation of anxiety which offers parallels to Buddhist thinking.
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This short opinion piece raises an important point about the universality of mindfulness-based programs. The currently established mindfulness programs delivered worldwide are modeled mainly on the original Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program structure. Taken out from its original Buddhist context and developed in the West originally for Western practitioners, mindfulness techniques and definitions are now re-exporting back to Asia, gaining popularity in Asia. Studies in self-construal have pointed out the cultural differences between the West and the East. Hence the suitability of Western-developed programs would need to be re-examined. And there could be significant implications for the design and adaptation of mindfulness-based programs delivered across cultures.
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Ethical decision-making (EDM) theories in behavioural ethics management have been developed through the social sciences, psychology, social psychology, and cognitive neurosciences. These theories are either cognitive, non-cognitive or an integration of both. Other scholars have recommended redefining what ethical means through moral philosophy and theology. Buddhism is a religion, a philosophy, a psychology, an ethical system and an art of living. The divine states (i.e. loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity) in Buddhism are virtues that could be developed by anyone regardless of their religion or non-religion through Buddhist meditation. They are so called because they enable individuals to develop ‘God-like qualities’. The theoretical insights of the divine states indicate how to eliminate negative emotions, such as anger, fear, delusion and envy, by cultivating love and compassion towards both the self and others. Accordingly, this paper contributes to EDM by redefining what ethical means through the meanings managers who practise Buddhist meditation assign to divine states in their lived experience of EDM in organisations in Sri Lanka. The sample consisted of 17 Buddhists, 1 Hindu, 1 Muslim and 1 no-religion. Data were collected using semi-structured in-depth interviews and was analysed with IPA. The findings indicated that how the managers made meaning of an ethical decision was influenced by their loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. The findings also indicated that the managers justified the reasons for their decisions subsequently through the benefits to themselves as well as their employees. Accordingly, this study supports the view that EDM is an integrated approach.
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Learning to become a mindful driver involves the acquisition of skills and striving to reach a level of attention and awareness of the driving activity. This learning process can be of value to drivers in general, and in particular, to those with ADHD, whose impaired attention, inter alia, heightens the risk for collisions. Mindfulness practices which, among other things, cultivate an attentive mind, could help them to overcome their cognitive challenges to become expert drivers. This article compares the practical application of mindfulness to established theory of learning skills. In this regard, the most valid comparison to be made is to the expertise paradigm. Previous research supporting this paradigm has shown that people move from primarily individual concerns for personal gain and the understanding of facts and features relevant to the skills that are being learned to more complex and sophisticated ways of understanding. The progression from novice to expert driver is, similarly, a process that takes the driver through transitions, challenges and transformations. Mindfulness, as a useful psychological construct, is explored in comparison to the theory of acquisition of skills and in relation to the Buddhist scripture Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta.
Thesis
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This writing explores shame and its distress. It does so through a historical examination of Western psychological theories of emotion compared to emotions as seen through Buddhist psychology, based upon scholars and authorities within these respective fields. Further, it explores some Western psychotherapeutic approaches used to alleviate (unhealthy) shame compared to Buddhist mindfulness methods for alleviating aversive emotions and their efficacy, alone or in combination. The question examined is whether mindfulness grounded in Buddhist psychology and teachings, when applied within Western therapeutic settings and populations, is an effective and appropriate means to help alleviate aversive states of shame. To identify therapeutic approaches utilizing mindfulness-based or other approaches to alleviate shame and psychological distress, database searches (primarily PubMed and PsycInfo with some auxiliary searches of Google Scholar) were conducted of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy, and Shame Resilience Theory to locate systematic reviews or meta-analytic research studies of their therapeutic effectiveness, primarily on psychological disorders, published from 2010-2020. After an overview of study outcomes, a discussion follows of their respective benefit (or harm) as well as opportunities for greater integration or further exploration of the application of mindfulness meditative techniques to shame or other aversive emotions.
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The absence of a central holy scripture in Buddhism and myriad manifestations coalesced into indigenous cultural communities across South and South-East Asia, presenting a formidable challenge to define Buddhism and its practices. This complexity may also be manifested in clients of Theravada background, making them elusive candidates in the therapy room. Complexity notwithstanding, Buddhism offers fertile learning ground for any optimistic multicultural counselor. For the purpose of this chapter, several selected fundamentals of Theravada Buddhism are presented with an emphasis on their possible cultural meanings and on therapeutic utility. This chapter is written from the perspective of Theravada school of Buddhism as it is taught, practiced, and seen in South-East Asia. The author's knowledge and personal experience in Buddhism as a former Buddhist monk, experience of Buddhism as a lay practitioner now, and as a practicing counselor inevitably influence, inspire, and may even limit the parameters of this chapter.
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I have already discussed depression from different perspectives and brought it within the province of understanding for a kind of layman’s ethic—for grief counselling, and beyond excessive medicalizing depression, and issues of daily life.
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Basic Buddhist ethics is based on five precepts. Refrain from: killing, stealing, violating the sexual codes, lying, and taking intoxicants (liquor and drugs). Self-control is the virtue of living according to basic ethical values as embodied in the five precepts. Though a monk’s ethical code contains a variety of codes, the five precepts are also basic for monks.
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A greater part of this work has been on the ‘inauthentic’ patterns of life and its cracks and flaws which become the focus of irony and humour but to strike a balance, this chapter has a focus on two strands of the authentic life, emotional integrity, and resilience. We have examined negative emotions like anger, envy, and greed but awareness of these negativities through mindfulness generates emotional integrity. But emotional integrity is not merely mindfulness of negativities. It is the richness of one’s emotional life through conflicts, dilemmas, and the strength with which we handle them, overcoming such challenges enriches one’s life. Resilience is not only to withstand difficult challenges but benefit from them. It generates also both grit and strength, as well as generosity and flexibility. Current neurology describes such resilience as ‘non-reactivity’.
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Soulignant la pertinence de l'idee d'intelligence emotionnelle dans le debat scientifique contemporain, l'A. etudie le phenomene le declin de la valeur de la sagesse dans notre culture moderne, correlativement a l'emergence d'un concept psychologique de la conscience des sentiments et des impulsions. Distinguant l'intelligence emotionnelle de l'intelligence cognitive, ainsi que l'approche utilitariste de l'approche rationnelle de celle-la, l'A. montre que l'evaluation epistemique de nos propres croyances et emotions, ainsi que la consideration des croyances et emotions des autres, participe au jugement et au choix dans le cadre d'une vision du monde et de la culture humanistes fondee sur la rationalite et la moralite
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KeywordsBoredom–Valuing–Emotion–Normative constraint–Leisure–Final ends