Saturday, December 23, 2006

Goal of Buddhist Practice: Link to Thoughts Chase Thoughts

There is a great post at Thoughts Chase Thoughts regarding The Goal of Buddhist Practice. In that post, Tom brings to our attention an article written by B. Alan Wallace and Shauna L. Shapiro entitled, "Mental Balance and Well Being" from the October 2006 issue of American Psychologist. The segment of the article he quotes is as follows:
The goal of Buddhist practice is the realization of a state of well-being that is not contingent on the presence of pleasurable stimuli, either external or internal. According to Buddhism, this movement toward well-being is a fundamental part of being human. 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.
A fundamental insight of Buddhism is the recognition of the fluctuating, impermanent nature of all phenomena that arise in dependence on preceding causes and contributing conditions. Mistakenly grasping objective things and events as true sources of happiness produces a wide range of psychological problems, at the root of which is the reification of oneself as an immutable, unitary, independent ego. By first recognizing these ways of misapprehending oneself and the rest of the world, one can then begin to identify the actual sources of genuine well-being. The true causes of such well-being are rooted in a wholesome way of life, are nurtured through the cultivation of mental balance, and come to fruition in the experience of wisdom and compassion. In this way, the pursuits of genuine well-being, understanding, and virtue come to be thoroughly integrated.

This excerpt is a wonderful explanation of Buddhist practice, and I look forward to reading the rest of the article. Thanks to Tom for posting this.


night sky said...

Hi Mike,

I've been reading a bit on your blog off and on lately. I particularly like the blog's sub-heading, "This world—just as it is with all its horror, all its darkness, all its brutality—is the golden lotus world of perfection."

Had some time today (Christmas) while everybody went to see the James Bond movie (not my thing!), so I read/skimmed the article you mentioned, "Mental Balance and Well-Being".

It was interesting to see the authors' take on parallels between Buddhist practice and psychology. I was surprised when I googled the authors to find that only one is a psychologist, because the article is quite technical.

I'm not Buddhist and don't know Buddhism well, but perhaps know Zen Buddhism the best. The authors are not comparing Zen Buddhism and psychology, but (mainly) Tibetan Buddhism and psychology. Probably I continue to lean toward the Zen side. But I did learn some things from the article, so thanks!

I'm not sure what you mean by "Darwinian Buddhist" in your profile, but I'm curious. If there's further information already in your blog, let me know.

Anyway, I had to say hello to a fellow Tolkien fan.

Mae govannen!

Mike said...

Hi! Thanks for visiting. I still haven't gotten around to reading that journal article yet, but thanks for your take on it. With one psychologist as author, most likely that person was the primary author (to get it published in that particular journal), while the other author was contributing (that's my guess).

Darwinian Buddhist ... well, I'm a big fan of Darwin's theories, so I thought I'd add that to my profile in a somewhat creative manner. It really doesn't affect my Buddhist views at all. :)

I'm about 1/2 way through the Silmarillion for the 2nd time. Amazing book!

Again, thanks for stopping by and commenting.