AN - Aṅguttara Nikāya
DN- Dīgha Nikāya
MN- Majjhima Nikāya
SG- Study Guide
SN- Saṃyutta Nikāya
UR- Unit Reader
There are three universal characteristics or the three natures of the universe, all conditioned thing is impermanence (Anicca), every thing is suffering (Dukkha), and there is no self (Anattā). Our present subject matter to discuss is Anattā, the no self belief. The early religious belief or concept of Attā or the soul or self is a mixture of, thus we find in the early Vedic literatures or in Upanishad. The Buddha who, came out with his invention that there is no self or soul or ego, every thing is non-self (Sabbe dhammā anattā). I would like to remind here that this is not the Buddha’s creation but invention, as the universal characteristic. It can not be said or perceived by the ordinary people, it can not be shown by research or analysis at all. But it can be realized by that person who has eradicated his ignorance, delusion, wrong personality belief, wrong views and so on. True that this is a fact. Once a disciple attained the Arahanthood, has no more doubt of this concept and this is the ultimate goal of the Buddha’s teaching. But the concept of the Attā or Anattā such a critic, there are many arguments even among the Buddhist schools, as a result they were divided into, such as Vassaputtiya, Pugglavāda, Sabbatthivāda, Viññāṇavāda, Suññatāvāda, and so on.
We practice Buddhist teaching of Anattā, also we recognize the modern psychological development.
Western Psychological Notion of Self
To start with Western psychological notion of self and to deep down before with Buddhist concept of Non-self (Anattā), I would like to quote about what the Upanishad or Vedic traditions say is, Attā or Self is eternal. Dr PG says, according to it humans were made up of several, psychological constituents, which separated when a person died, returning to their original place in the universe.
In West, it represented a ‘Vivifying Force’ deriving from the concrete idea of breath, just as anima or soul was in the West, both being associated with the source of consciousness. The idea of breath, outgrowth idea of life-breath is, combined with the image of ‘fire-soul.’
Several synonymous or term of Self or likewise are used in Western psychology, such as Ego, Super-Ego, Personality, Id, Anima, and so on. Basic notion of self is, the individual consciousness of one’s own continuing identity.
Ego- it is like an experiment in Psycho-Analysis, denotes that portion of the Id which has been modified by contact with reality. It is commonly used to mean the total personality or conscious self.
Personality- the summary of every aspect of the self as seen by others. In its popular sense it usually implies case and an ability to impress others favorably without effort. The victim from an inferiority feeling would describe it as ‘what the other fellow has, and I lack.’ If the individual aspects himself and knows he has the right to be himself there is no need for invidious comparisons. That is what we in the human society.
Id- it is a central concept of Freud’s construction of the Ego and is identical in Psycho-Analysis with the unconscious. And the “it”; that part of the personality from which arise all primitive or instinctual impulses. The Id is wholly self-seeking. According to Groddeck it can influence growth and health, sometimes forcing upon the individual a misshapen body, or getting “its” way through illness.
Now we will talk about Freudian Super-Ego, according to him it arises through the Oedipus complex. That part of ego which has taken to itself the prohibitive and disciplinary role exercised in the outside world by parents and those in authority. Its workings are largely unconscious. When we are aware of it we call it conscience. To the threatening power of the parents and likewise, as seen by a child, is added the aggressive hostile impulses felt by the child towards those who restrain it, and now turned inwards against the self. The Super-Ego therefore develops a severity vastly in excess of that shown by the parents others; and through its connection with the Id is able to punish by sexual and other frustrations, or bringing on illness, and self induced accidents. And the Anima which Jung used to denote that part of the personality which derives from the Unconscious. Anima appears in dreams as the opposite sex to the dreamers.
We if observe all these descriptions sincerely, we can perceive one thing, let us say it is a Cold-Conflict, a Cold-Conflict between Self and it-Self (if there is a Self), whether the Self of a person in the human society, sex at home, PhD in Institute, Psychologist in Chamber, Easterner and Westerner, and so on.
We will have some more concept of Self in 2nd section.
Buddhist Notion of Non-Self
In ultimate sense as it is said in the introduction that in Buddhism there is no Self (Sabbe dhammā anattā). According to different individual there are many different notion of Self, even in different Buddhist schools. One of the central concepts of Mahāyāna Buddhism is Suññatā, which means nothingness or emptiness, or void-ness. This doctrine further develops the understanding of “No-Self” or egoless ness, providing it with a more universal application. It says that it is not just the Self that is inherently empty, but any thing, - and everything. But this doctrine doesn’t mean that the world and everything in it doesn’t exist. The Sabbatthivāda school says “everything exists”, (sabbaṃ atthi). This is what the Buddhist teaching of Paṭiccasamuppāda that everything happens with its cause and effect.
With these views there are some problems of the concepts of Kamma, Rebirth, and No-Self. If there is no absolute Self, how does Buddhism resolve the problem of transmigration and of the continuity life after life? There are also some different schools came with their views on it. One of them known as Vassaputtiya, also well known as Puggalavādin, goes so far as to propose the concept of an inexpressible personal entity (Puggala) that travels from life to life, a concept that seems to contradict the fundamental theory of Anattā.
But Theravāda school accepts in quite different way that is, denies the existence of an intermediate state and argues instead for the existence of an inactive mode of deep consciousness (Bhavaṅga) that forms a casual link between one life to the next. In this way, the first moment of consciousness in a new birth is simply the direct condition effect of the final moment of consciousness of the immediately previous existence.
Here, this conversation concludes with this view that consciousness is the Self. This Self is quite similar to the Self concept in West. In Buddhism, this consciousness, which is the component of human constitution, recognized as one of the five-aggregates. But the aggregates are impermanence (Anicca), no ever lasting, because there is No-Self.
Problem of Notion
We have seen that the notion of Self in Western psychology and in Buddhism is different ultimately. The notion of Non-Self of Buddhism is also different even among the Buddhist schools. This is a big problem. Let us see what the problem of view is.
The earth is not the center of the universe! When Copernicus first presented his revolutionary theory that the earth revolved around the sun rather than vice versa, people thought he was mad. However, when Galileo used a telescope to prove Copernican heliocentric theory, he was considered as heretic for challenging the prevalent religious beliefs with his scientific views; Galileo was tried and ordered to recant his views. Faced with torture, he recanted and was under house arrest, where he remained for the last eight years of his life. On Galileo’s deathbed, his last words reportedly were, “No matter what they say, the earth revolves around the sun.”
Like in same way, no matter what is the notion of Self in West or East, philosophy or psychology, man or woman, tutor or student, monk and nun, analysis or invention, there is no Self (Sabbe dhammā anattā).
Many parables or similes in Buddhist scriptures which prove the notion that there is no Self. There is a popular and wonderful episode between two wise persons- King Milinda and Arahant Nāgasena, which should be mentioned.
King asked, ‘By what name shall I know you, Venerable?’
Ven. Nāgasena answered, ‘My fellows call me Nāgasena. But the name and the person whom the name refers to do not really exist.’
King commented, ‘If Nāgasena and the person do not exist, to whom do people offer and who receive these offerings? Since you receive them, you really exist. Why did you tell a lie in spite of your higher nobility?’
Ven. Nāgasena replied, ‘Your Majesty, did you come to this monastery on foot or by chariot?’
King replied, ‘I came by chariot.’
Ven. Nāgasena required further, ‘Well then, please show me your chariot? Is the horse the chariot? Is the wheel the chariot? Is the axle the chariot? Is the carriage the chariot?’
The King answered, ‘No, they are not.’
Ven. Nāgasena remarked, ‘Is there a chariot beside the horse, the wheel, the axle, the carriage, and so on.’
King again said, ‘No.’
Ven. Nāgasena commented, ‘Your Majesty, you said you came here by chariot; yet you could not show the chariot! Why did you tell a lie inspite of your high honor?’
King consented, ‘There is no chariot beside the horse, the wheels, the axle and the carriage. Just a combination of these things has been named as chariot.’
Ven. Nāgasena remarked, ‘Very well, your Majesty, you should understand Nāgasena as you understand the chariot.’
We know about that the body of Ven. Nāgasena as it is the combination of the five aggregates. But the problem of view, within us is making a big problem. It is like what I said the cold-conflict between Self and self itself. It is different according to the individual and their power of consideration.
In lecture 2 and 3, very important issues have been pointed out, which are most important components of this conversation. Likewise, the two views, eternalism (Sassatavāda), which holds that there is a permanent Self which appears life after life. The annihilationism (Ucchedavāda), which holds that a person has a Self but it is destroyed a death, with the consequence that Kamma doest not exist. And Buddhism takes a middle way between these two extremes and the concept of Dependent Origination describes this middle position.
All these Vāda (or Ism) at once what the Buddha said are “Wrong View(s).” it is clearly described in Dīghanikāya, they are called Diṭṭhi, which means wrong view, like a net, we are tangled in it. As it is said that Buddhism takes the middle way of both. He is neither a Sassatavādī nor an Ucchedavādī, as he said himself that “I’m a Vibhajjavādī, an analytical. The notion of Buddhist analysis of the doctrine is quite the same as the psychoanalysis in West. The root cause of the Attadiṭṭhi. The Attadiṭṭhi, which is considered as one kind of unwholesome view (action). It suffers us and being a cause of suffering. Now we will see how humans hold the view of the self according to their personality.
An ordinary person, who is known as Puthujjana in Buddhist term, holds the concept of Self as “there is an Attā”, and the noble person (Ariya) in his belief there is “No Attā.” And generally Ariyas are praised by the wise and the Putthujjanas are condemned. If we deep down with this analysis we will see that the root cause of the suffering is the Attā Diṭṭhi (personality belief).
One thing that should be noticed that the Attādiṭṭhi or wrong view of personality is considered as one kind of defilement (Kilesa), one kind of fetter (Saṃyojana), one of the components of the doctrine of Dependent Origination (Paṭiccasamuppāda). Puthujjana is that person who still has such things, considered as an evil-doer. There are eight Ariya persons, the beginner one is called Sotāpanna, means the stream winner, the stream of Saṃsāra, Kilesas, and so on. He is called the stream winner or the Ariya because he has eradicated “Sakkāyadiṭṭhi” or Attadiṭṭhi (wrong view of Self), has eradicated Vicikicchā (skeptical doubts of the doctrine of Self, or likewise), and the Silabbataparāmāsa, which is called the wrong views of rites and rituals.
An ordinary human practices the Paññatti Dhamma the conventional doctrine, and a noble human practices the Paramāttha Dhamma, the absolute or the ultimate teaching (of the Buddha). Very shortly to make it clear, it is like what happened to Galileo and the authority, and between the King Milinda and Ven. Nāgasena.
How the Anattā Idea Applies To Counseling
It is quite complicate, no easy to encounter, like what happened to Galileo. Because of this idea of Anattā many scholars from different sects say it is not true.
Dr Philip Greenway says in his Lecture 6 that there are no homunculi, no other sources of energy or action in the system. The Self, for example, is an important construct in our theory, but the Self doesn’t do anything. It is only one expression of the general tendency of the organism to behave in those ways which maintain and enhance the Self.
Rogers describes him as a biological organism that develops into a person instead of being as a person, says organism only respond possibly toward their environment, this makes man relate only reactively but never in an active, outgoing fashion his towards his psychological field.
Such kind of important issues have been demonstrated by the Buddha practically. The general tendency of organism and the biological organism, it is like the doctrine of the Saḷāyātana the six sense bases. As we have seen above that the consciousness considered as the Self. According to such organism there are six kind of Self. The Self, who sees and says I’m seeing, I’m hearing, I’m smelling, I’m tasting, I’m feeling, and I’m thinking. Another term to discuss that is the “Tendency of organism.” This is one of the most psychological developments in Buddhism.
In Majjhima Nikāya it is explained as Yoniso Manasikāra and Ayoniso Manasikāra, which mean the wise consideration, and the unwise consideration of any thing. It is also refers to the doctrine of the Puthujjana and Ariyajjana that we have discussed. It has been descried very clearly as the Buddha was counseling his disciples-
“By considering things which should not be considered, and by not considering things which should be considered, his un-arisen cankers (negative emotions) arise and arisen one increase.
“Thus he unwisely considers; ‘Was I in the past or was I not in the past? Or what was I in the past? Or how I was in the past? Or what having been, what then I was in past? Will I be in the future? Or will I not be in the future/ or what I will be in the future? Or what having been, what then I will be in future? He also becomes inwardly perplexed with reference to the present, thinking; indeed am I? Or am I not? Or what am I? Or how am I? Or whence has this ‘being’ come? Or where will it be going?”
Such way a person tides himself or herself with unwise consideration. Its all about what and how a person accept the things with his or her consideration (Manasikāra).
Bikshuni Pema Chödrön says when we are so involved with trying to protect ourselves; we are unable to see the pain in another person’s face. “Self-cherishing” is ego fixating and grasping; it ties our hearts, shoulders, head, our stomach, into knots.
What is “Self-cherishing” then? Is it Yonisomasikāra (wise consideration) or Ayonisomanasikāra (unwise consideration)? It’s all about what and how a person accepts the things with consideration.
The Self and Neurotic Style of Experiencing
This is to examine how “false” views of the self contribute to the experience of neurosis, anxiety, and narcissism, with the references of western psychology of Self and Buddhist ideas of Non-Self, as it is like about ego-centricity. It is like to take both of them, either, way to further development. Psychoanalysis and Buddhism both concern themselves with dissatisfaction, human suffering, and its alleviation; both offer one a kind of diagnosis and a way of treatment. They both take place within an important personal emotional relationship, the relationship of the therapist-client, and the relationship of the teacher and student, and so on.
Western Psychological Concepts of Ego, And Ego-States and Buddhist Concept “Self is False View”
William James assumed that everything, Self or Soul was objective he noted that while language allows us to categories in terms of Knower and the Known. They are only discriminate aspects of the singularity of the process of experience, a global Self which is no less than the person himself. The Self as Known or Me in the broadest sense everything that a man can call his.
Basically, James classifies Self into two, Material Self and Spiritual Self. Just to take a note on, let us keep it in mind as it is like the Buddhist teaching of Conventional (Paññatti), and absolute senses (Paramāttha). (Here the Spiritual Self is not the pure Paramāttha one, but a further developed Self).
Spiritual Self, James means thinking and feeling, i.e. what we most truly seem to be. “We take a purer Self-satisfaction when we think of our ability to argue and discriminate, or our moral sensibility and conscience, or our indomitable will, than when we survey any of other possessions. Only when these are altered is a moan said to be alienatus a se.”
The material Self consists of the clothing and material possessions we see as part of us. Clothing ourselves one is important part. Some find it to always “dress to the hilt”; with many present college students, it seems that their clothes are not important to them. Yet even dungarees and denims can be considered a vital part of the student uniform which enables one to be tagged as a student. Self is, identifying with materials possessions; boy with a gun, and cowboy outfit and becomes a cowboy. Giving a doll’s house to a girl, completed with furniture and dolls, and she becomes a mother.
We mostly, can find material Self objects we possess that are central to our material Self or ego. Whether it be a professor’s book, researcher with papers, a Director’s Rolls or a student’s scarf, all we have a material Self which is part of our overall Self concept. Like the same Self what Ven. Nāgasena demonstrated to King Milinda, that King came to monastery with the combination of material things, which is the Self.
The Buddhist teachers’ views are opened liberally. Thirteen-century Zen master Dogen says; “To study Buddhism is to study the Self. To study the Self is to forget the Self. To forget the Self is to be one with others.”
There is a Buddhist approach following that Psycho-Analyst experienced;
“You are walking in the forest beside the old master, and come near a brook. He touches your shoulder, and you know he wants you to sit down. He shakes his head and points to a piece of cork which floats by. It is burned, half of its black. “That is your personality,” the master says, “with everything that happens, every change of circumstance, every conflict, every defeat or victory, a small bit of it crumbles away.” You look at the cork. You see pieces of it come loose and disappear. ‘The cork is getting smaller and smaller,’ you say, nervously. The calm voice of the master is very close: ‘until there is nothing left.’ He looks at you with a kind smile. There is this fragile old man who wants to teach you something….. You will lose your name, your body, your personality. Your fear lessens. If it has to happen, it will happen. Nothing will be left. You will be no longer be there.”
It is what in the West called psychoanalysis, and this story is told by a Buddhist teacher a Buddhist approach.
In psychoanalysis, one could say, Self as a help-construction in our endeavor to understand the person in being, suffering, enjoying, hoping, learning, teaching, and so on. Developmentally, we understand the Self as a function which grounded in embodiment and experiences of Self-reflexivity that are typical of human.
Such typical human, with (the concept of the Self or) the ego contribute to the experience of neurosis, anxiety, and narcissism.
Narcissism and Egoism
According to Freud Narcissism is the libidinal complement of egoism. One can be egoistic and yet maintain a strong interest in object libido or can egoistic and yet at the same time be preponderantly narcissistic. “In all these situation egoism is the Self-evident, the constant element, and narcissism the variable.”
But in Psychological approaches egoism and narcissism go together. One of the essential characteristics of narcissism is the demand for ego-gratification through receiving the attention and consideration of others, as well as the things. It is what in 1st section of this essay that we said as it is the wise consideration (Yoniso manasikāra), and unwise consideration (Ayonisomanasikāra). Whether it is Yoniso or Ayoniso, the ego receives, receives for its gratification (Taṇhā). In Freudian sense, “it is the need for receiving love.”
In certain cases one observes that the ego takes itself as object and behaves as if it were in love with itself. Thus the term Narcissism which has taken from a Greek legend was used to describe this phenomenon. The term Narcissism was used by Paul Nacke, denotes the attitude of a person who treats his own body in the same way in which the body of a sexual object is ordinarily treated. Regarding this term, Freud says that it seems probable “that an allocation of the libido such as deserves to be described as narcissism might be present far more extensively, and that is might claim a place in the regular course of human sexual development.”
Narcissism in a sense is not a perversion, but the libidinal complement to the egoism of the instinct of Self-preservation, a measure of which may justifiably be attributed to every living creature.
This is what we discuss in this essay that “false” views of the Self contribute to the experience of neurosis, anxiety, and narcissism. What we have seen it all about the Self-gratification, and the Self, which is a false view in Buddhism. Self-gratification or sensual needs of the Self is called Kāmataṇhā, the sensual desire or craving. And it is the component of human suffering (Dukkha samudaya). There also a cause of the arising Kāmataṇhā which is called Diṭṭhi, known as wrong view, ignorance, delusion, and so on. Such kind of Self and its gratification recognized as Sakkāyadiṭṭhi or Attādiṭṭhi and Sassatadiṭṭhi alternatively. As much as a person grapes such view, or as much as a gratified with the objects, it is making Self happy, so much so he suffers or will suffer, here and now or in future, in ultimate sense. (Kāmesukāsukhallikānoyogo hīno-gammo-puthujjaniko (dukkho), anāriyao, anatthasaṃhito). It says that sensual gratification of Self is low, vulgar, worldly ignoble, (suffering), unwise, and unprofitable.)
How does it work? It is clearly mentioned in the texts as “It is craving (what is early mentioned “it is the need for receiving love.”) which gives rise to further rebirth and, bound up with pleasure and lust, finds ever fresh delight, now here, now thereto wit, the sensual craving, the existence, ……….”The same theory could be applied to others likewise anxiety and so on.
Ego and Anxiety
Anxiety is one of the hindrances, fetters, defilement, according to Buddhists. But anxiety is characteristic of the ego or Self. Can be said also as on ego-state. When one begins to focus on the ego, one meets some very common problems. Freud’s theory of anxiety is that “Ego is the seat of anxiety”, and thus anxiety precedes repression. To clearer, if there is a self, anxiety is there, sits, enjoys, rules, and predominates the sense faculties. If the anxiety considered as suffering, they always go together then! So it is like possessing an ego means ones possesses anxiety. Repression, does not lead to anxiety but anxiety leads to repression. Ego with its considerations, has the power of reproducing automatically a previously experienced fear, or can what is going to happen. Thus anxiety is a signal given by the ego that there is a danger, present and in future. In Buddhism, noticing the signal or understand the signal is the main concern. Only can be with the wise consideration (Yonisomanasikara), morality (Sīla), concentration attitude of the mind (Samādhi), and insight or wisdom (Paññā). The four signs signaled Prince Gautama that there the ego-ness is dangerous and an endless suffering in this saṃsāra.
I remember one meditation teacher’s words, “Try not to ignore your painful sensation while practicing sitting meditation, it is a golden opportunity, it will take you to the perfect happiness.”
There three main types of anxiety, objective anxiety, neurotic anxiety, and moral anxiety. These three can be related accordingly to three distinctions in which the ego is dependent, on the external world, on the Id, and the super ego.
In Buddhism, possessing the ego or Self is suffering. And anxiety, which always sits the ego. Buddhist psychology works here with the signals given by the ego that there is a danger, the signals of continuous suffering in inhabitants, for aging, sickness, dying, and so on. It is clearly mentioned in texts as “birth is suffering, ageing is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering. Separation form beloved one is suffering, association with dislike one is suffering, not to get what one wants is suffering, in short, (the group of five aggregates which in cling is suffering, if there is a ego or self, it is in the cling, is suffering).
How the anxiety arises from the separation? “Whatever desirable, agreeable, pleasant objects there are visible, audible, odorous, testable, and tangible; or who ever those wishers of welfare, wishers of benefit, wishers of comfort, and wishers of release from bonds are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, relatives, or blood relations, it is that not being together with them, not coming together with them, not fraternizing with them, and not being mixed.”
All these anxieties, which are suffering, all because of the false view of ego or self and the gratification of ego or the Self.
In many ways this term is used in the Buddhist analysis, such as Sakkāyadiṭṭhi as defilement (Kilesa), Attā as fetter (saṃyojana). Also it can refer to the Avijjā (ignorance) as a component Dependent origination (Paṭiccasamuppāda). More details found in Brahmajāla Sutta of Dīgha Nikāya, wrong views of ego or its concern are 62 types.
There are 20 kinds of false personality beliefs. People who are unskilled in doctrine,
- Regard body as the Self (Attā)
- Regard Self as having body
- Body as being in the Self
- Self as being in the body
They say ‘I’m the body,’ ‘body is mine’ and are assessed by the idea. They are enamored by body and cling to it, and because of clinging there comes a lure upon them. They pay full devotion to the body and its concerns. They are proud of the fact that the body is full of youth, vigor and ever beauty. This idea is clear to the Western psychological term of Libido, Anima, and likewise.
Thus emerges the ego-illusion associated with their body. When it arises Taṇhā (lust) they think ‘the body is mine,’ when it is arises on Māna (conceit) they think ‘I am this,’ when it arises on Diṭṭhi (theory), they think “This is Myself.”
In such way that individuals misconstrue the nature of the body, so do they regard feeling, perception, dispositions, and consciousness. Thus we get the 20 types of personality belief;
- Ego as identical with corporeality, feeling, perception, dispositions, consciousness. (1-5)
- Ego as contained in them (6-10)
- Ego as independent of them (11-15)
- Ego as the owner of them (16-20)
Where there is merely, a complex consisting of corporeality, feeling, perception, disposition and consciousness, the individual being subject to ego-illusions assumes the existence of an ego. Secondly, this concept is called Nāma-rūpa is subject to change and destroy, but the person considers it is permanent. Finally this complex of Nāma-rūpa is the source of ill but the individual subject to these ego-illusions will not be able to realize the nature of the truths, which is called by the Buddha as universal characteristics of Anattā (No-self), Anicca (impermanence), and pain (Dukkha).
All is presented briefly, all up to the individual how he holds the views as it is named Yonisomasikāra (wise consideration), and Ayonisomanasikāra (Unwise consideration). Buddhist theory always emphasis in the wise consideration of the individual, and all have been specified for this. Ven. Chogyam Trungpa syas, “Traditional Buddhist psychology emphasizes the importance of direct experience in psychological works. If one relies upon theory alone, then something basic is lost.” Theory is the first step, and be completed by practical in the direct experience of mind itself, in oneself and others. Let us say “Bring the scientific theory of psychology put in Buddhist practice.”
If some one considers this way that Self or ego, the personality, it’s all about the Self-gratification, Id in society, sensuality, or sexuality, the case of mental suffering the situation is worse. Not in sense of defeat, it is what the Buddha figured out in his analysis of self -gratification. Kāma, the sensuality described as a fear, suffering, disease, bond, bog. Kāma has been likened to a lump of flesh, a grass-torch, a pit of glowing embers, a dream, a borrowed article, a fruit of the tree, a slaughter house, an impaling stake and snake’s head. In Vinaya has been depicted by a very telling analogy of the itch. Said, it is a dog sucks the bone which is wet with little bloods, whole day will suck it but stomach is empty.
How Does the Empirical Self Develop
Practical Works Reflection
People in my early life, the first 5 or 10 years, true that I can’t remember many things but some of things that I feel and still I think how it was! It is like what has been specified here attachment. Yes, there were attachments, now I know that theses are call attachment, and I want to take them now positively.
(Three Important People)
The way mother was taking care of me, preparation for school, sending to, when returned concern about food, taking rest, special food preparing, during examination, she guided as tutor whether I’m well prepared or not. Now in my lonely or self-serving live I think I was attached to with such figure. I can feel now.
Mostly every mother behaves healthy to her children. As my mother she never ignored or lazy to taking care about me while I was sick, or any unpleasant situations.
Honestly to say I can’t recognize any unhealthy behavior as my mother has. she is sincere, kind, friendly and, cool woman too.
Father was so happy doing something for his sons, as to me too. When we were out together, likewise in market or any occasion or any relative’s house, he used to introduce me “This is my son.” I was attached to this so much.
My Father is not an angry man, most of our neighbors or relatives used to say he is “cool man.” Most of the time smiling, doing the thing with patient and responsibility. He always liked to being noticed if there is any problem among the family.
Some time he felt boring, tired, and worry, because of maintaining such a big family alone with his limited properties. He used to keep quite and it was making me (to family) unhappy.
Especially my attachment was to his encouragement for my study and doing better. To his presents, and taking to city, and outside for traveling.
As an elder son of family, he was like father. He tries to maintain better.
Some time he is angry, even tried to hit or beat, did some time. Some time when he is at home visiting, I was afraid to face him sometime.
To remind, this is an Asian family. There is a big distinction between Asian family and others. Only my father, mother and brother, only there three person come first. Because still I can remember how big struggle it was to maintain the family, parents never made us to feel it. I can know what is family and parenthood. (But I’m single). There were some relatives those were so friendly and nice to us, it is also because of our good family and good father-mother.
And every issues regarding my childhood, I compare with the environment, practical, in every strange event, and I also meditate on them. They help me to develop my self-esteem.
Here I express my estimation regarding thoughts, behaviors, and objects-
I don’t believe in fortune or like that or any other power, most of the time. Nothing can be done or gained without any effort myself. Good actions or good behaves bring good and successful result. Once I had such thought one day I will be satisfied in my study, and I will travel different countries, I could help myself, I would be able to help the society, or needy people as well.
I’m very careful in my behaviors. Suppose, I’m too much attached to the food, I don’t say that to whom is treating me, but I just enjoying it, and very carefully asking “it would be perfect if we could have some more.” Some time just like pretending but not harm anybody or anything, absolutely not. As I have notice from the Buddhist texts that person with a greedy character is polite and gentle, proud, and has attachment to the five sensual pleasures. Such a situation I really afraid and shy to behave, thinking if there is someone going to read my character and say “He is a greedy man.”
Objects are most important, dangerous too. There are five external objects according to the Buddhist studies, form by eye, sound by ear, odor by nose, taste by tongue, and touch by body. A normal man or woman always influenced or attracted, or attached by theses objects. Me too, but I’m quite moderated by the Buddhist teaching. Very briefly to say, once the Buddha was asked by Ānanda, “what should we do behave if women want to talk us in the way?” The Buddha responded thus, “treat them as your mother, (or sister, or likewise).” Present day we are spoiled by the external objects, just think about how the companies present their productions in TV, magazines, newspapers, cinema, and so on. How they make us crazy! If we know all the material things are impermanence and subject to decay. I don’t tell not to use but to be wise and moderated with. I have attachment to the object but moderated, before taking the object in possession I use my wise consideration (Yonisomanasikāra).
Self-esteem indicates that there is self with us. We everybody love our selves. We have attachment to our selves. No one can ignore it since they are attached by. As it is mentioned that detaching, letting go, turning it over, gaining some perspective, distancing oneself, needing, and creating space are all expressions that describe a process that leads to non-attachment.
As I said the wise consideration during the taking object is the most important time, it means you are meditating, you are letting come and go your attachment, you are using your insight.
Right now I’m listening an audio record of Dhamma talk by Respected Thich Nhat Hanh, saying we can’t escape from our daily life attachment, anger and so on, suggesting to welcome the attachment always this way, “hello my little attachment, good morning, please come, I know you.” It is like saying to beloved one, “Darling! I will be there for you.” He or she is the true lover who is present there, in present time.
- Mother was always- loving, caring.
- With mother I felt- secure, protected.
- Mother gave me a view of myself as- I’m one part of her life.
- Father was always- kind, compassionate
- With father I felt- encouraged, sweet and sound.
- All my life- I think every thing influenced by their love and care.
- One of the things I’d like to know about me- how and what father-mother expect or think about me, how they will be recognized themselves by me?
- One of the thing I don’t want to know about me- what will happened if I can’t show my responsibility to them, and the situation if I were failed to fulfill their expectations.
- If I were more honest about my feeling- I would be much moderated, mindful, and responsible to.
- The bad thing about admit my fear is, if some one misunderstand me, without any reason but only misunderstanding by language, expression, behaviors, and like wise.
- If I were to be honest about myself about my anger- true that according to the incidents I do ignore, or let it go or let it be, or pretend that I did not do anything. Most of the time during angry I close my eyes gently and try to meditate that now I’m angry, and let it be. Anger is impermanence, suffering, and non-self.
- The good thing about denying my excitement is- I all the time use to measure myself that the good how much good to me! I worry if that good is too much for me!
- When I think of how I try to protect myself by denying my feelings and emotions- I know that if the feeling and emotion are not balanced one can be crazy, anxious, and out of control, I try to tolerate, or balance in feeling and emotion than denying.
Practical Work: Gendlin’s Technique of Focusing
There are two assumptions made by Gendlin
“There is a kind of body awareness that profoundly influence our lives and that can help us reach our personal goals.” When one enters this body awareness, a felt sense will shift if one approaches it in the right way. It will change even as one making contact with it. When the felt sense changes, he or she is changed.
This is an ineffable feeling that somehow summarizes or catches the essence of a direct sense about something that we experienced. Such moments of experience or “felt in the body’ meanings become the centre of therapeutic interaction. “felt meaning” occurs when a person shifts from thinking, explaining or interpreting an experience to physically feeling it.
This giving up of the thinking attitude means opening one’s mind to whatever is in one’s experience. It is necessary to give up any need to control the process by allowing whatever appears, to appear.
Focusing will be relatively ineffective if the therapeutic relationship is not equally empathic, and conducive to trust and feeling secure.
Before beginning the exercise the body and mind should be relaxed, with relaxed feeling, sit down comfortable, closing eyes, and following the rhythm of the breathing.
(To go through the focusing process, an audio tape might be useful for the instruction and listening carefully.)
- Making a Space
Starting with the beautiful conversation, might be asked, “How are you?” not to turn other side, just respond to the answer. Greeting each concern that comes, putting each aside next for awhile. To except the question, “Are you really OK?” thinking for a while, patient, wait until the respond. If it is okay to workout, getting preparation for, just before this find out if there is any problem feels worst at this moment.
2. Find a Felt Sense
If there is any problem that occurs, better not to go into this problem, but it should be noticed that any senses or feeling should be concerned.
3. Finding a Handle
What the felt from the feeling to capture all of it? What is the felt sense, in other words what sensation seems to be associated with it? If it is not easy to consider better find another handle. Problem may be changing, if does, this is the thing what is concerned, some shift which comes with the body feeling, focus on it, with handle.
Going back and forth between and words or images which suggest themselves and the felt sense, finding out if there is any good combination between them. There might be sense of release; it is like that aura, being patient and take pleasure in it.
Spending some time with this state, with an attitude of friendly curiosity. Then asking “What are you?” experiencing the felt sense again and again, if it is disappeared, use the handle to bring it back. The words that flow out of a felt sense make a vital difference.
There might be a body move, without controlling anything it can be done.
There might something come out, what ever it is, without any judgment, welcome it, just receive it. To examine the self-capability, marking out “where are you now?” can see now whether it is right or in a wrong way.
Gendlin makes the important point that focusing helps the client to create an observing self. This is what the concept of distance implies. When focusing, one is not one’s experience nor does one distance oneself so far from the experience that he or she out of touch with it. Standing in this point the counselor helps the client by refocusing the client on the feelings of the body, to be with the feeling and not to be submerged by the feeling.
How Focusing is used by Counselors
Firstly, the relationship between counselor and client should be emphatic enough to allow the client to be receptive to letting go of full conscious control and allowing the internal autonomous voices and feelings to become active.
Secondly, the counselor should try to make the client feel reasonable, logical, emotionally controlled, moral, conventional, and so on. The client has to demonstrate that s/he lives by the same rules as the rest of the world. What is called the reality should be accurate and effective. (Such as, in Buddhism there is a very effective method of meditating on the nature of the universal, impermanence, pain, and non-self (Anattā).
Thirdly, becoming skill through focusing becomes more effective with practice. The most effective way to gain insight into it is t practice regularly. It is one kind of meditation or like hypnosis, in which the person centers on the self. It beginning, the person relaxes, and turn their attention inwards. Shutting the eyes symbolizes this quite well. With the closed eyes one can pay full attention on it and it’s effective. Thought are made to be still, a skill that practice. Latter on, the person becomes receptive to his or her own body. It may take few minutes, also can be applied with breathing meditation.
The importance of accurately reflecting the client’s felt sense. When the client finds the felt sense, the counselor reflects it, keeping literally to the client’s words. It is like singing the song again and again until the some of the words can remember to singing with singer together. It should be noticed that the client is extremely susceptible to adopt and the counselor says as a set of “instructions” to be fulfilled. The counselor must be careful to mirror as exactly as possible whatever “felt sense” the client raises. The entire counselor’s comments should aim to help the client to be open to their internal body feelings. The client’s task is to resonate with the client’s internal feelings, means that the client will compare their feelings with a situation that comes to mind or some concrete problem. Here concrete means that the client recalls an actual situation. At this point the counselor may bring relevant material into the experiences, allowing the client to continually check the relevance of the experience to the felt feeling. When the meaning has been fully expressed some shift is felt in the body and the felt sense reaches completion.
Interfering reactions usually come from the conscious, controlling ego, the basic principle is that the focusing person receives that is associated with positive, unconditional acceptances.
Counselor’s role is to help the client be receptive and accepting of their internal processes, involves helping the client to stay with emerging sensations and leave aside the client’s inner critics or ego-ness. These inner critics part of the client’s conscience or habits of holding themselves responsible. This involves trying to defend the self from anything that seems negative. Suppose, the client might reject angry feelings. In such a situation, according to Gendlin there are six ways of interfering-
1. Identifying interfering ways of reacting
Interfering ways might be self-criticism or self-doubt rationalization, and so on. All of these ways are cognitive habits that automatically arise and interpret raw experience. In such state the counselor keeps the ego-ness (Of the client) out focusing.
2. Dis-identifying or distancing oneself
Counselor should be able to find out that the client has inner negative voices, but asserts that these voices are part of the client’s conditioning and noting more. If the client is able to recognize his or her such negative voices, and these voices will not have their usual negative impact.
3. Putting a “face” to it or giving it a concrete form
In every critical voice, usually there are some associated persons, like parents, teacher, friends, or any adult member of the family. The counselor is be able to notice of it.
4. Exploring the past and present function of the interfering character
Every interfering character must be respected and heard. Such character originally came to existence to protect the client from being hurt or deprived of love. The character has a childlike quality in its way of thinking and experiencing. This usually means that the character is unable to take into account other points of view and is not able to relax and not interfering. The interfering character has an imperative nature. It is like the person who is compelled to continually check whether they have turned the gas off or locked their car. Although the interfering character means it is sabotaging.
5. Assigning a new place to the interfering character
Interfering nature is partially independent until it can be understood and challenged. Sometimes the character introjected with parental ideas, value, habits, and so on. These habitual ways of experiencing can usually be put aside fairly easily because they are not difficult to recognize as arbitrary or limited to a particular group such as family, school of church, and likewise. Secondly, interfering character is to protect the client.
These characters are associated with strong emotions and have a stereotyped quality because repetition the messages from these interfering characters protects the client from punishment. This kind of character has to be treated with gentleness. Unconsciously the client is afraid that when he or she relaxes, and doesn’t resort to this protective reaction, negative consequences will follow.
6. Returning to that part of the person that was in the grip of the interfering character.
This healing is rather confusing, critical voices need to be heard their purposed recognized. For instance, the person who feels really envious but who can not directly express this envy may feel that things will never go well for them, that they only want for a fair chance, or that they get overlooked, and so on. These hidden feelings need acknowledgement, and client needs support in trying to bring them out in to open.
Focusing is essential part of client centered counseling. Energy for change resides within the client. The basic idea in this term is that if a person can allow “Felt sensations” and meanings to emerge, then this to change energy will be liberated.
7. (Summary) - Experiential counseling emphasizes the client’s experience. It builds on
What The Client Does to Enable an Experiential Step to Come!
- At various moments the client will turn his or her attention to something implicit that client directly senses. At those moments client senses the border zone between conscious and unconscious.
- What is sensed in this way is at first unclear, murky, puzzling, not fully recognizable. Client can address this only by temporarily shelving what client had been saying or thinking. When the therapist first asks to do this, client is unwillingly to let go of what was thinking and still wanted to say. It is not necessary to decide if her/his perspective is wrong or right in this process, nor is there any designation of thinking here. The process moves between thinking and bodily sensing; both are required. But, to find the bodily sense he or she does have to turn attention away from the old information, away from what is clear. Instead, client turns to what is felt unclearly around the clear feelings, and beneath them.
- The counselor is able to see that the sense exists bodily from the client; that is attentive to client inward physical state.
- What the client discovers is a whole, a single entity. And yet, when it opens we can see that there was complexity implicit in it.
- The actual step involves a shift, an opening in the felt sense. Until then the felts sense had remained closed, silent, and unmoved. Now it shifts and opens. This shift also includes a feeling of physical relief, a bodily indication that what was said, or recognized, is directly meaningful as it emerges from the murky sense. This doesn’t mean that what was said is ultimately true or correct. Neither the therapist nor an experienced client would assume that it is. Later steps are likely to further change what now seems to be true. What is apparent is that the murky sense of the issue is directly affected by what has been said. These statements “speak for it” or “from it” whereas much else that was said and thought had left the unclear felt sense untouched.
Such a step feels good; it releases energy. What one finds may feel good or bad, but its emergence- the step of finding-always brings relief, like fresh air. This kind of effect does not make something painful more painful. It is what Gendlin says “felt shift.” The felt shift changes the constellation of the whole problem and person’s attitude towards it.
- To be noticed that. Although the client discovers a deep part of oneself, it is not oneself that client discovers. That is, she is interested in it and sympathizes with it, but remains separate from it and greater than the part that is there. In this deeper sense of oneself, the person is not the content.
- What has emerged was not the result of the client’s values or purposes (that is, her desire for competence of his or her desire to reach out rather than pull back). The values client had condemned the fact that sometimes pulls back; nevertheless, what emerges does not arise from these values. Nor does it arise from the therapist’s values, although he or she actively puts them into the process. Here, neither the client’s not the therapist’s values made any difference. But what emerges is not arbitrary; it has its own direction and its own values.
- In introspect, one can make sense of what emerges, and one can form a theory and invent logical steps that could have led to it. Once we see the step, we can understand the statements that led to it in a new way, so that the step can make sense coming from them.
What happens in a step cannot be predicted from what is said or thought before it occurs. And although it remains logically related to the same topic, problems, or issue that brought it forward, the problem has changed from how it seemed. And it is called that “content mutation.”
According to Gendlin, there are four kinds of helping, can be used at different purposes.
- The first kind of helping: Helping another person focus while talking.
- The second kind of helping: Using one’s own feelings and reactions about the other person.
- The third kind of helping: Interaction
- The forth kind of helping: Interacting in a group.
It is obvious in Gendlin’s explanations that how a counselor should/must be clever or skill in communications. Especially in listening to the client’s impressions, making oneself open that the counselor is one of the dependable place where the things client wish to keep. The communication skill like so applicable to getting the hidden to come out, or being with the point that coming out and to get it more clear.
There is an example given: Suppose a woman has been telling you about some intricate set of events, what some people did to her and how and when, to “put her down.”
Firstly, you would say one or more sentences to state in words the crux of what she said as she sees it. Then she corrects some of how you said it, to get it more exactly. You then say back her corrections: “Oh, so it wasn’t that they all did that, but all of them agreed to it.” Then she might add a few more things, which you again take in and say back more or less as she said them. Then when you have it just right, you make another sentence for the personal meaning or feeling that whole thing has: and what’s really bad about it is that it’s made you feel put down.
The dialogue method of psychotherapy is extraordinarily stimulating, inspiring and intellectually rewarding, (especially in Buddhist psychotherapy). This is a great deal of audio-visual aids as it is the essence of psychotherapy.
What is The Relationship between Gendlin’s Technique and Buddhist Psychology?
It seems the same relationship as the man with the idea of a flea in his head and the wise Buddhist teacher of the story of “A Flea in the Mind.” The story says of a man convinced that a flea wandered around inside his head. He was very much concerned that the flea crawled over his brain, down the back and sides of his head. Everyone says that there is no flea in his head; he says that I can feel it, it is in my head. Even he had X-rays, but ignored their findings. Finally the man came to a wise Buddhist teacher who applied the solution of skillfulness. The teacher said, “O yes! You have got a flea.” The man expressed enormous relief; “At last someone believes me. I’m not a fool. I do have a flea in my head.” The teacher said to the man, “I’ve some medicine for your flea, if you use them for fourteen days, the flea will come out of your ear.” The man did so, fourteen days later returned to the teacher, teacher secretly got out a matchbox with a flea inside, and put the matchbox to the man’s ear. He told the man to tilt his head over to one side: said “Ah, here’s the flea. Look, it has come out. The man felt overwhelmed with gratitude. He no longer had to worry about the flea. He felt clear, content and untroubled.
Very simply, according to my relationship with Buddhist theoretical and practical issues, would like to mention very shortly.
Few days before one Burmese monk I met in way to university. He is enough elder than me and cool and humble too. I invited him to my place and we talked about the studies. I usually like to talk in Burmese language if I ever meet any Burmese. He, very sincerely said to me I use to read horoscopy. It was so interesting to me; I said can you teach me, please! He said, I saw you, observed you, you can do this, but I would not like to teach you. It is easy; you can use your Samādhi (Concentration) to the person who come to you to know about. That’s all. (Though I’m not interested in such job at all.)
I would like to take the word Samādhi for to refer briefly. Samādhi or concentration is always with the focusing state of a person, or they mostly work together, may be concentration is strong or weak. With the client we may say it is weak and with the counselor is may be quite stronger than the client’s.
Samādhi or concentration which mostly can be acquired by the tranquility meditation (Samatha Bhāvanā). There are 40 kinds of Samatha Bhāvanā which help mind to get absorption. Likewise the Jhāna attainment. With further development of the Jhāna state or even at the state if the person wants he or she can read other’s mind, and can listen the other’s mind. Even though he or she is not the enlightened one. The Buddha had such knowledge called Abhiññā (The higher powers).
To prove this statement I would like to mention the Pāli term “Parassa Ceto-pariya-ñāṇa” means, “Penetration of the mind of others. Only can be achieved through meditative concentration.
Why I’m talking this thing because the process of achieving such state always begins with focusing method. And there are clear discussions on early Buddhist teaching such as Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna sutta (The discourse on Great Mindfulness). Also, especially in Visuddhimagga commentary there are 40 kinds of meditation have been demonstrated, they are mostly emphasized with focusing the attention on the phenomenal or some particular objects. For example, the breathing meditation which is from both traditions, Samatha and Vipassanā. Gendlin says in his focusing instruction that “Before beginning the exercise the body and mind should be relaxed, with relaxed feeling, sit down comfortable, closing eyes, and following the rhythm of the breathing.”
And for the listening manual of the counselor, which is very important task, its depend on counselor skills and meditative or constructive mind. Gendlin has emphasized in his lecture. There is a huge area in Buddhist psychological ethics, refers what and how should be the counselor in his task, as a whole.
Firstly, the counselor must be aware of own self (Attāññaya). S/he should be able to realize of perceive the realities of every phenomenal (Dhammaññaya), and S/he should be able to read their meanings as well as the others minds (Atthaññaya). S/he should have the knowledge of time for therapeutic approaches (Kālaññaya). S/he is aware of behaviors of the persons (Puggalaññaya), and s/he should be skill enough of associating people (Parisajjāaññaya).
Gendlin’s technique of focusing and Buddhist psychology is related in this point that making the client aware with his/her “felt sense”, and according to Buddhist psychology it is a process of acquiring a healthy, and constructive mind through meditation.
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 With the references from Lecture 1, 2, 3, by Dr Philip Greenway, page 8-12
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*Buddhist and Freudian psychology, M.W Padmasiri de Silva
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 DṆ Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta (Dukkhasamudayaṃ ………., Yāyaṃ taṇhā ponobbhavikā nandīrāga sahagatā tatratatrābhinandinī, seyyathidaṃ, kāmataṇhā, …………)
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