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Buddhadharma : Summer 2014
SUMMER 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 45 and as we know, there’s more to Buddhist meditation than mindfulness. JUDY LIEF: What’s most interesting to me is seeing Western psy- chology becoming much more curious about human potential, not only focused on the pathological. In addition to interest in mindfulness, now there is a lot of study of the nature of compassion, empathy, and interconnectedness. Our culture has a tendency to medicalize every human state; we expect to find a way to alleviate the symptoms of our sorrows without actually addressing the causes. While that can be helpful to a point, it can also be harmful to put a Band-Aid on something that needs deeper healing. Buddhist practices, and probably really good psychotherapy as well, look below to eradicate root causes rather than cover over symptoms. JACK KORNFIELD: It doesn’t worry me, because there’s something innate in us that wants to awaken. Not in everyone; they’re not all ready. But I see those options as a gateway, just as when you go to a traditional Buddhist culture, you find a lot of monasteries where there isn’t really much practice—often the majority of monks don’t meditate—but still, they offer a gateway, a reminder of what’s possible. I trust the way the dharma unfolds over the centuries from culture to culture, and that there will always be people whose hearts awaken to this great possibility—and their doorway may first be through some mindfulness or compassion training that’s quite secular. BUDDHADHARMA: So how can we as Western Buddhist practitio- ners hold the benefits of psychology that we’ve been discussing without compromising the integrity of the Buddhist path? JUDY LIEF: I think it comes down quite simply to this: as we practice, we need to learn that any view is just view. Recog- nizing how we solidify our beliefs, no matter what we label them—as dharma, psychology, science, or anything else— helps us keep a more spacious perspective. We can appreciate insights without clinging to them or taking them as more solid than they are. BODHIN KJOLHEDE: We should be aware that, as the Lankavatara Sutra says, everything we perceive is the projection of our own mind, and we can’t entirely see what we’re embedded in, just as a fish doesn’t know it’s in water. To maintain that basic questioning, that openness and vigilance about what we might not be seeing—to me, that’s what it’s all about. But I remain concerned about mixing psychology and tra- ditional dharma teaching. In China, a very stratified society where rank historically held supreme importance, the great Chinese master Linji (Rinzai) emphasized awakening to the Man of No Rank. It occurred to me that we need to be sure to see beyond psychological forms and terminology to the Person of No Diagnosis—the one who is beyond all of this. JACK KORNFIELD: Yes. If you meet someone and can see their buddhanature regardless of their conditioning or diagnosis, and if you can remind them to see themselves in that way, that is liberation. I’m not worried about the mixing of Buddhism and psychology particularly. I think the most important thing is that there continues to be a devoted group of practitioners who dedicate themselves to living, discovering, and embody- ing deep realization and using the skillful means available to them share that dharma with others. self-esteem psyche