Buddhist Psychology? Buddhism is Psychology
So Buddhism is psychology: it is the study of the mind. But does Buddhism have anything to offer to the Western mind? Jung suggested that Buddhism should be restricted to Easterners. As Colette Ray points out: “A … serious issue is whether teachings developed in the East can provide useful guidelines for people in the West… there are traditional and cultural differences which cannot be ignored.”
Yet, between cultures, a toothache is a toothache. I doubt whether Shakyamuni Buddha would change his teachings if he lived now. Probably the stories and metaphors would change, but not their essence. Suffering is suffering, and we all want release from this regardless of the clothes we wear. The suffering of emotional and physical pain is no different to that of 2,500 years ago. The suffering of change is no different. The hot bath gets cold, and even if there is a way of keeping it warm, eventually we get sick of it, regardless of the color of our skin. The root cause of our suffering has not changed. Our minds still have the qualities of clarity and awareness, and the afflictions can be removed just as they could in 500 B.C.
At these levels of suffering, Buddhism reads like cognitive behavioral therapy. Think differently. Be rational. Accept change because this is the way this world exists. Don’t blame outside events, look to your own mind. Different cultures, same methods, because the problems are the same. As Padma de Silva points out, we often neglect the behavioral aspects of Buddhist theory and practice; he goes on to describe ways in which behavioral methods have been used in Buddhism for hundreds of years as a means to induce healthy and productive living …
This article can be read in its entirety in Mandala