western vs eastern concept of self

Richard C. Page: is an associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services at the University of Georgia, Athens. The psychological commentaries of the Buddha, collected in the Abhidharma Pitaka, were further elaborated in India by Vasubandhu nine centuries later, providing the basis for the Yogacara or Vijnanavada conceptions of consciousness and the self. Yes I agree, what an amazing piece of writing. process. Does it have any real existence apart from its parts? Wisdom and compassion are dependently arisen, they “inter-are.” In the final analysis, wisdom is compassion, and compassion is wisdom (Mosig, 1989). He did so by distinguishing between the ego as center of consciousness and the self as the emergent integration of the polarities of the personality. It is important to realize what is meant by the “self” rejected by the Buddha as illusory. This can be grasped best with another metaphor, often found in Buddhist literature. The practice and theory of individual psychology. I, me, and mine—how products become consumers' extended selves. Pattern and growth in personality. The word “car” is nothing but a label for the gestalt formed by the constituent parts, and although it is true (as realized by Wertheimer and the other Gestaltists) that the whole is more than the sum of the parts (one cannot drive sitting on any of the separate parts, or on a random heap of them, but driving is possible when one puts them together in a certain way), it is equally true that a gestalt cannot continue to exist when separated from its parts. With Jung the self, transcending the ego, became ultimately identical with the whole psyche. It is essentially a perceptual and cognitive processing center. The same is true of the remaining skandhas—each one is composed of the other four. While these aggregates are together, the functioning gestalt we call a person exists; if they are removed, the gestalt ceases to be. New York: Harper Collins. Borrowing an example from Hanh (1988), consider a piece of paper: it can be, because a tree was, since the tree had to be in order to be cut down to make the paper. The heart of man. Towards a “Meta-Ethic” Derived from Evolutionary Lineages, Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2161-1912.1991.tb00625.x. Eastern perspectives about self are inherently non-dualistic. These potentials exist in the form of “seeds” (bija) (Hanh, 1974, Epstein, 1995). Implications for psychotherapy and everyday life are discussed. The illumination is one ongoing phenomenon, integrating the contributions of the individual bulbs. Now consider your self, your ego. Goleman, D. (1981). Social and Cultural Anthropology Commons, Home | Just like the term “fist” is a convenient label to designate a particular (and transient) arrangement of the fingers, the term “self” or “I” is nothing but a label for an impermanent arrangement of the, The psychological insights of the Buddha were explicated by a number of commentators after him. > Language automatically fosters further reifications, in a vicious cycle which prevents the individual from effectively communicating in a non-reifying, nondualistic manner. The psychotherapeutic applications of Eastern and Western psychology have been examined by a number of authors (e.g., Watts, 1961; Goleman, 1981; Loy, 1992). Garden City, NY: Doubleday. Each of these jewels reflects the whole net, so that the entire universe is contained in each part of it (Loy, 1993). Wheaton, IL: Theosophical House. The interconnectedness, or “interbeing,” of everything in the universe, implied in the principle of dependent origination, finds an elegant expression in the metaphor of the jewel net of Indra, in the Buddha’s “Flower Ornament” sermon (Avatamsaka Sutra). Think of a room illuminated by seven lightbulbs. It often amazes me that very bad parenting and early childhood damages are rarely ever mentioned by the "spiritual" teachers and Advaitic spokespersons. Learn more. (1942). Learn about our remote access options, Associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services. Allport, G. (1961). One of the most important ones was Vasubandhu, an oustanding Buddhist scholar living in the 4th century. This false sense of self or ego-individuality defiles the first six consciousnesses and is the source of all sort of psychological problems and delusions. The person becomes transformed from an isolated and powerless individual struggling against the rest of the world, into an interconnected integral part of the universe. Peace is every step: The path of mindfulness in everyday life. Philosophy East and West, 43, 481-510. It was precisely this inner self that was rejected by B. F. Skinner (1971) and the radical behaviorists as “explanatory fiction.”. There are eight consciousnesses, and yet these are ultimately one (Epstein, 1995). Such part, if found, would have represented the essence or the “soul” of the car, and yet it was nowhere to be found. The integration of the two levels of awareness, the absolute and the relative, is essential for the normal functioning of the healthy human being in society. The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 24, 151-180. Culture may play a critical role in this process. What would remain of it, if one removed one’s perception of it, one’s feelings about it, one’s impulses to act on it or with it, and one’s conscious awareness of it? Although the archetypes in the Jungian collective unconscious manifest themselves in dreams and visions, the individual cannot modify their character. The Buddhist notion of self circumvents reification, being an impermanent gestalt formed by the interaction of five skandhas or aggregates (form, feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness). Western psychotherapy, in its efforts to heal the neurotic individual, attempts to strengthen the ego, or to foster the development of a stronger “self,” and yet it is this very notion of self which Buddhist psychology sees as the root cause of human suffering. I entered therapy at 49 but had tons of exposure to Eastern concepts and spirituality which never helped me at all until, work on my very damaged ego did the trick. True wisdom is automatically manifested as universal compassion, just as true compassion manifests itself as wisdom. What would remain of it if you removed form, feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness? Being aware of the phenomenon of awareness results in the mistaken notion of an inner perceiver who is having the awareness and who is separate from it. In its simplest expression, dependent origination is a law of causality that says “this is, because that is; this is not, because that is not; when this arises, that arises; when this ceases, that ceases.” Despite the apparent simplicity of this formulation, it is a farreaching principle, that leaves nothing untouched, and, in fact, causally connects everything in the universe, for it implies that all phenomena, whether they be external objective events or internal subjective experiences, come into existence depending on causes and conditions without which they could not be. This is why mindfulness of thoughts is so important, and why the “right effort” aspect of the Eightfold Path deals with cutting off negative or destructive thoughts as soon as they appear, while nurturing positive ones. Is it real? Now all we have is a pile of parts—where is the car? For this reason, the self can be said to be “empty” of reality when separated from its component aggregates— a view of the self radically different from Western perspectives. There is no one here, just this. But now look again: where are the boundaries of the wave? To hurt another becomes to hurt oneself; to help another is to help oneself. I see people as sick and dysfunctional mostly because of bad parenting but I guess all of these "dysfunctions" could be called the byproducts of not knowing who/what we are. The illumination is one ongoing phenomenon, integrating the contributions of the individual bulbs.

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