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Buddhadharma : Summer 2014
SUMMER 2014 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 37 superego However, this same skepticism lends itself perfectly to the employment of Buddhist prac- tice as a path of self-inquiry. Ironically, the influence of the psychological framework in the West can thus be seen to be helping Bud- dhism return to its roots—in this case, vibhaj- javada, “the way of analysis,” a term used at the Third Council in the era of Emperor Ashoka to define the practice of buddha- dharma. Such a methodology—the analysis of and reflection upon the experience of all phenomena—accords very closely with West- ern scientific method and echoes the injunc- tion of the Buddha in the Kalama Sutta not to believe something merely on the basis of tradition, hearsay, or logic but to find out for oneself what is true and useful. The discussion that follows demonstrates what it means to be faithful to this path of inquiry, to look closely and see what is both true and useful in the realms of Buddhist practice and Western psychology and to put it to work for the benefit of all beings. It is just such inquiry and application that will help us realize unshakeable freedom, a well-being far beyond a meager arming against “common unhappiness.” flipping and the self-actualizing were to be effected was somewhat blurry. Eventually, in Thailand, I discovered Bud- dhist meditation and the monastic way of life and found that these provided the “how” I was looking for. Not long after, I headed back to the West and have been residing here ever since. Once back in the land of my birth and education, I found that the juxtaposition of Buddhism with Western psychology nurtured an ongoing dialogue not only within myself but also in the broader society. It also made me reconsider my earlier disappointment with psychology. I began to wonder whether there were ways in which the Western view of things brought greater light to Buddhist practice. It’s hard to ignore the influence of psychol- ogy on Western Buddhism. This influence manifests not just by way of helpful addi- tions—such as defining nuances of self-view as manifested in various neuroses—but also in how it shakes up the priorities of Buddhist practice. The skeptical materialist conditioning that most of us have received in the West makes us unable to use a mere belief-based system. AJAHN AMARO is abbot of Amaravati Monastery in England and former co-abbot of Abhayagiri Monastery in California. He was ordained as a monk in the Thai Forest Tradition by Ajahn Chah in 1979.