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Buddhadharma : Fall 2005
buddhadharma| 65 |fall 2005 reviews Boulder, Colorado, the summer of 1978. After completing a medi- cal residency in psychiatry at Yale University, I had just moved to Boulder with my family. I was working at the Student Health Center of the University of Colorado and teaching a class at The Naropa Institute, in the psychol- ogy program. One Friday evening there was a reception planned for the faculty: Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, the presi- dent of the institute, would be present, and the faculty would have a chance to meet him. After hearing many stories about Rinpoche, I was curious to meet him. When I arrived, he was holding court in a large room. A long line of people wait- ing to talk to him had formed at the door. He would talk with each person for a few minutes, inquiring about their lives or work. I waited in line for a long time, until finally my turn came to be introduced. I stood by his chair while one of his students introduced me: “This is Dr. Wood. He is teaching a class in the psychology pro- The saniTy we are Born wiTh: a Buddhist approach to Psychology By Chögyam Trungpa Compiled and edited by Carolyn rose Gimian shambhala Publications, 2005 256 pages; $16.95 (paperback) reviewed by antonio wood gram.” Rinpoche looked at me and asked, “Wood?” while touching the wooden arm of his chair. “Yes, Wood,” I said. “Wood?” he inquired again, and this time he bent down to touch the wooden floor. “Yes, Wood,” I said. Again he asked, “Wood?” touching the wooden table next to him. “Yes! Wood!” I repeated, getting increas- ingly annoyed. Strangely, he kept repeating “Wood?” and touching wooden objects. It was a bizarre interaction. I thought he was drunk. But he kept asking the same question, over and over again, intently, gently, and relentlessly. And then my mind stopped, and I relaxed. My irritation dis- appeared and I stopped trying to figure out what was happening. Exactly at that moment, he smiled and said, “Nice meet- ing you.” We laughed, and I left. For a while I couldn’t find the restart button for my mind. All of Rinpoche’s extraordinarily abun- dant teachings, and his interactions with students, pointed in the same direction: the nature of mind, and our ultimate nature as human beings. The Sanity We Are Born With: A Buddhist Approach to Psychology is an excellent compilation of his teachings on psychology. It is particularly helpful to those who work in the healing professions, including psychology. Psychology is the science of the mind, but what is the mind? The Oxford English Dictionary defines mind as “the seat of a person’s consciousness, thoughts, voli- tions, and feelings; the system of cognition and emotional phenomena and powers that constitutes the subjective being of a person; also, the incorporeal subject of the psychological faculties, the spiritual part of a human being, the soul as dis- tinguished from the body.” This equat- ing mind with spirit or soul is perhaps at the root of the modern confusion about “mental illness,” illustrated in the separa- tion of medical care, based in hospitals, and mental health care, based in mental health centers across the country. Since Descartes published his thesis about body and mind three centuries ago, philosophers have battled over which entity, mind or matter, was the basic stuff of the world. Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and James contended that matter is but a uniquely objective and substantial form of mind, a position not very differ- ent from that held by many contempo- rary physicists, who believe that matter is Antonio Wood is A psychiAtrist living in Boulder, colorAdo. he WAs A student of the lAte chögyAm trungpA rinpoche. Beyond i and oTher