Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Comparisons between western theory and eastern traditions and practices are problematic

Re: integral ideologies 101 by Richard Carlson by Rich on Mon 19 Mar 2007 07:02 PM PDT Profile Permanent Link The following excerpt from a conversation between western cognitive scientists, psychiatrist and Tibetan Buddhist practitioners is also instructive regards the differences in orientation, world view, and theoretical structure which makes exact comparisons between western theory and eastern traditions and practices problematic. In the following conversation Allan Wallace the president of the University of California at Santa Barbara for Interdisciplinary Study of Consciousness and Ajahn Amaro co-abbot of Abhayagiri Buddhist monastery speak about how different traditions valorize the spectrum of consciousness. The process Wallace describes is a goal embraced by many integral psychology programs
Allan Wallace: I would like to see something very practical come out of the research especially in terms of mental health. In the West there is a marvelous science of mental illness, but once you get back to normal, you are pretty much shunted out the door. You have reached the level of a psychiatrist, and if you improve any more it might be embarrassing for the therapist. It would be good to have a clear vision of what mental health is – exceptional mental health at the upper end of the spectrum – and practical strategies for developing mental balance way beyond the normal. We know what it is like to be physically normal, but we also have Olympic athletes. What would it be like to have an Olympic status of mental health? What would be the constituent parts? I would love to see that studied.
Ajahn Amaro: In Buddhist philosophy, one is not considered sane until one is fully enlightened, so the bar is set in a slightly different place. (From the Dalai Lama at MIT Edited by Anne Harrington and Arthur Zajonc, Harvard University Press 2003/2006)

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