Buddhist Psych II

  1. What is Samsara?
    The continuous vicious cycle of confirmation of existence. The hoax is the sense of solidity of I and other. This dualistic fixation comes from nothingness. In the beginning there is open space zero, self-contained, without relationship. But in order to confirm zeroness, we must create one to prove that zero exists. But even that is not enough; we might get stuck with just one and zero... We set up a background, a foundation from which we can go on and on to infinity.
  2. What are the four noble truths?
    • First Noble Truth:
    • The Nature of Suffering (or Dukkha):"This is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering."

    • Second Noble Truth:
    • Suffering's Origin (Dukkha Samudaya):"This is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving which leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there, that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination."

    • Third Noble Truth:
    • Suffering's Cessation (Dukkha Nirodha):"This is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, nonreliance on it."

    • Fouth Noble Truth:
    • The Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering: (Dukkha Nirodha Gamini Patipada Magga)"This is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is the Noble Eightfold Path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration."
  3. What are the four actions that connect the four noble truths to the work of psychotherapy?
    1. To become Aware

    2. To let go of harmful patterns

    • 3. To realize the possibility of greater freedom
    • and less reactivity

    • 4. To cultivate the means of achieving greater
    • freedom and less reactivity.
  4. What is klesha?
    In Buddhism, the Sanskrit word klesha (Pali: Kilesa meaning "defilements," "corruptions" or "poisons") refers to mental states that temporarily cloud the mind's nature and manifest in various forms as unskillful actions of body, speech, and mind.

    (The kilesha are called "The Three Poisons" in Mahayana Buddhism.) The three primary kilesha are known as mula klesha ("root obscurations"): 1) lobha: greed, lust (rāga), attachment; 2) dosa: hatred, aversion; 3) moha: delusion, sloth, ignorance (avijjā).

    These three kilesas specifically refer to the subtle movement of mind (citta) when it initially encounters a mental object. If the mind initially reacts by moving towards the mental object, seeking it out, or attaching to it, the experience and results will be tinged by the lobha kilesa.

    Unpleasant objects or experiences are often met by aversion, or the mind moving away from the object, which is the root for hatred and anger to arise in relation to the object.

    All Buddhist schools teach that through Tranquility (Samatha) meditation the kilesas are pacified, though not eradicated, and through Insight (Vipassana) the true nature of the kilesas and the mind itself is understood.

    When the empty nature of the Self and the Mind is fully understood, there is no longer a root for the disturbing emotions to be attached to, and the disturbing emotions lose their power to distract the mind.
  5. What are the five skandhas and how are they used to describe the development of confusion and dualistic fixation?
    The 5 skandhas are set of Buddhist concepts that describe ego as a 5-step process.

    • First skandha:
    • "Form" or basic ignorance.
    • Ignorance in this case is not stupidity, but it is a kind of stubbornness. Suddenly we are bewildered by the discovery of selflessness and do not want to accept it; we want to hold on to something.

    • Second skandha:
    • Feeling
    • Diverting ourselves from our aloneness. We attempt to find ways to occupy ourselves. Dependent of the relativity of this and that -- my existence and my projections -- and karma is continually reborn as we continually try to busy ourselves. In other words, there is a fear of not being confirmed by our projections. Feeling the solidity of something seemingly outside you reassures you that you are a solid entity as well.

    • Third skandha:
    • Perception/Impulse
    • The third skandha evelopes three strategies or impulses with which to relate to its projections: indifference, passion, and aggression.
    • Perception is the self-conscious feeling of needing to measure up and keep finding various strategies to keep going.
    • Indifference: we numb any sensitive areas that we want to avoid, that we think might hurt us. We put on a suit of armor.
    • Passion: Whenever there is a feeling of poverty, hunger, impotence, then we reach out, extend our tentacles and attempt to hold onto something.
    • Aggression: Also based on the experience of poverty. If you feel you cannot survive you must ward off anything that threatens your property or food. You run faster and faster in order to find a way of feeding or defending yourself.

    • Fourth skandha:
    • "Intellect" or "Concept"
    • We need the ability to conceptualize and name things because we have such a rich collection of things going on inside us. Time to pigeonhole.

    • Fifth skandha:
    • Consciousness
    • We need a mechanism to keep the instinctive and intellectual process of ego coordinated. It consists of emotions and irregular thought patterns, all of which taken together form the different fantasy worlds with which we occupy ourselves. (See the six realms)
  6. What are the six realms? What experience do you have of being stuck in a realm? How do you get out of a realm?
    • 1. The Hell Realm
    • 2. The Hungry Ghost Realm
    • 3. The Animal Realm
    • 4. The Human Realm
    • 5. The Jealous God Realm
    • 6. The God Realm

    Naraka or 'Hell' Realm -
    This realm is defined by hatred and rage, and by defining all other beings as enemies. Within this realm, there is no opportunity for compassion or desire for the teachings to arise, as all our momentum goes toward fighting others, and suffering the consequences. Depictions of this realm in various Buddhist schools is very similar to those found in other religions, with fiery torments. But within Buddhist cosmology this state, like all the others, is not permanent. Instead, when the negative karma that brought us here has run out, we will be reborn into another realm, with the possibility of working towards a human birth again.

    Preta or 'Hungry Ghost' Realm - This realm is defined by constant desire and greed. In this realm, we are so overcome by our desire for more, more, more - whether food, drink, sex, wealth, or even certain emotional states - that we are consumed by it, and cannot focus on anything else. It is analogous to the state of an addict, in which getting the next 'fix' trumps all other concerns. In this state, we cannot practice the teachings because we cannot focus on anything other than our wants.

    Animal Realm - Within Buddhist cosmology, the animal realm is defined by ignorance, and an inability to think for oneself. Life is one-dimensional and survival-oriented, with little free will or choice. Therefore, as animals we do not have the capacity to hear or practice the teachings, although we may show signs of past practice in our temperament, i.e. compassion or intelligence.

    Human Realm - A middle realm, our human existence is defined by our ability and free will to experience any state, from blissful to hellish. It is therefore perfect for attaining enlightenment, because there is just enough suffering to motivate us to seek liberation (unlike in the god realms, where we are easily distracted by pleasure) but not so much that we cannot hear and practice the teachings (unlike in the lower realms, where we are so consumed by our suffering that we cannot practice.) From a human birth, we can cultivate the compassion and wisdom necessary to free ourselves from the entire wheel of samsara. In this realm we also have the most control over our future births, because we can influence our karma through our choices, whereas in the other realms we generally do not move into another birth until the karma that has brought us there has run its course.

    Asura or 'Jealous God' Realm - Also pleasurable, this realm is nevertheless defined by jealousy and competitiveness. Although a birth here does offer more opportunities for pleasure than a human birth, here we are prone to coveting the pleasures of the Devas, which we can see (just as animals and humans can see each other.) In this state, we are prone to envy and/or a sense of victimhood - that we are not getting our fair share - and become fixated on evening the score. Theravada teachings generally do not recognize this as a realm separate from the Deva realm.

    Deva or 'God' Realm - Defined by bliss and pleasurable states of all types, this realm is reminiscent of Greek myths about the realm of the gods. But in Buddhism, this is not an immortal state, and also not the ideal one for attaining liberation. We can become addicted to pleasure here, including meditative bliss, and can become trapped, forgetting to work towards liberation, and falling into lower realms because of this forgetfulness and self-absorption.
  7. What does the logic of the six realms teach us about working with emotion?
    Our reactive emotion project worlds. It’s quite possible to inhabit this world so fully that we never see that it’s projected.

    These are landscapes projected by emotion. Pushing each next set of thought/emotions along which is karma. What happens down the line after this cascade of effects of where it goes. These are six ways of describing where it goes.

    • The idea with all the realms is staying with the
    • emotional energy. Each realm is associated with a klesha. Passion, aggression,ignorance, jealousy, and pride. Teaching is pointing toward a subtle enough mindful awareness that you’re neither fighting nor giving up. Riding or dancing with the emotion.
  8. What is pratitya-samutpada (interbeing) and how does it relate to a contemplative approach to helping others
  9. What are the eight worldly dharmas? How does the dualistic logic of each pair keep us trapped in a cycle of hope and fear?
    The “Eight Worldly Dharmas” and are listed as a set of four contrasting pairs:

    • pleasure and pain;
    • praise and blame;
    • fame and disgrace;
    • gain and loss.

    The seemingly positive side of each of these pairs (e.g., praise, fame) triggers not only the contemporaneous sensations and thoughts related to pleasure (“I like this!” and “I deserve this!”), but also a clinging, a desire to hang onto, perhaps to intensify, the experience. And each of the “negative” experiences (e.g., blame, loss) triggers not only instantaneous sensations and thoughts related to disliking (“I hate this!” and “This should not be happening to me!”), but also, too often, a determined effort to avoid, escape, or deny the situation. If we look at our own emotional lives and behavior, we can begin to see that much of our lives are governed by the pursuit of pleasure, praise, fame, and gain; and by the avoidance of pain, blame, disgrace, and loss. This could hardly be called a meaningful life. There is a way out of this trap. First, we need to develop the habit of observing our reactions to situations, to see where it is that we are getting hooked into believing in the importance of the dramas we create by way of the “eight worldly dramas.” In doing this, we learn that we seem to be living on a highly unpredictable roller coaster, as we emotionally rise, descend, and rise again, based on our interpretations of the events of our daily lives. When we are being praised, we feel marvelous; if, in the next moment, we receive what feels like blame, we feel terrible. When the experience is painful, we tend to tighten, or clench up in a fierce (and counterproductive) effort to protect ourselves. Either way, we dwell on, and feed off of, the emotions generated by events and (especially!) our interpretations of those events.

    Second, we must practice compassionate acceptance of precisely the things we might most want to change: painful experiences; being jostled and bruised by others as they, too, scramble about in the thrall of their own eight worldly dharmas; and our own proven capacity to fall into the traps and stories created by our own minds. Recognizing that I harbor a childish tendency to insist that things go “my” way, my task is simply to notice when this arises, acknowledge it for what it is (just a misguided demand that I am making of the world), and return to the situation at hand: what does this situation demand of me, now? According to my own values, what is the correct action, right now? Sometimes the correct action will be to accurately label what is happening (perhaps an injustice being done to someone); sometimes it can involve an attempt to relieve the suffering created by an injustice; and always, if it is truly a "correct" action, it must be done in a spirit of non-harming. This is very demanding work, and we will not always get it right; however, life will always give us more opportunities to practice!
  10. What have you learned about your own sanity and confusion through shamatha/vipashyana practice?
    Basic Buddhist meditation practice of tranquility (shamatha) and insight (vipashyana).
  11. What are some of the ways of working with emotion suggested by the Buddhist tradition?
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Buddhist Psych II
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