Buddhist Psychology

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  1. Tonglen. What is the basic logic? What are the four stages of formal Tonglen? How might you use "on the spot" Tonglen in a therapy session?
  2. What is idiot compassion? Why is it considered a major obstacle on the Mhayana path?
  3. Define bodhicitta. Discuss the distinction between relative and unconditional (or absolute) bodhicitta. Do you have a way of rousing bodhicitta in your own practice?
  4. Bodhicitta practice is divided into "aspiring" and "entering". What do these terms mean?
    • Simply:
    • Aspiring: Connecting with the idea of suffering. Can use tools listed below.
    • Entering: Feeling and practicing with suffering with the various tools.

    • Prac­tices of Aspiring
    • Prac­tices for cul­ti­vat­ing the four lim­it­less ones. Unlim­ited friend­li­ness (maitri)
    • Com­pas­sion
    • Joy
    • Equa­nim­ity

    • For­mal med­i­ta­tion prac­tice of tonglen
    • The three noble principles
    • In the begin­ning: start with the moti­va­tion of compassion
    • In the mid­dle: main­tain a non-​grasping attitude
    • In the end: share the merit with all beings

    • The daily life prac­tice of rel­a­tive bodhicitta
    • Arous­ing maitri and compassion
    • Doing ton­glen on the spot

    • Prac­tices of Entering
    • The daily life prac­tices of the six parami­tas, which lead us to the insep­a­ra­ble expe­ri­ence of shun­y­ata and compassion.

    • Gen­eros­ity
    • Dis­ci­pline
    • Patience
    • Exer­tion
    • Med­i­ta­tion
    • Wis­dom (prajna)

    • Lojong Prac­tice
    • The prac­tice of work­ing with the 59 slo­gans of mind train­ing, which includes both absolute and rel­a­tive bod­hicitta practice.
  5. What are the four immeasurables? You should know each one and its near and far enemies. Be prepared to discuss your experience of any of these immeasurables.
    • Love (Maitri)
    • near: clinging attachment
    • far: hatred

    • Compassion (Karuna)
    • near: pity
    • far: cruelty

    • Joy (Mudita)
    • near: frivolity
    • far: despair/jealousy

    • Equanimity (Upeksha)
    • near: indifference
    • far: anxiety/greed
  6. In what ways is sympathetic joy distict from the experience of pleasure? How might this distiction be relevant in clinical practice?
    • Jodi
    • (class notes 9/30) Pleasure: sukha: sweetness/sugar…we might be afraid of pleasure because our habits might be based in a kind of ego-pleasure and we recoil from spaciousness and expansion…we must learn to relate to expansiveness and if we experience something as nourishment “let yourself have that.” It’s very intimate to reveal one’s pleasure to another and may feel threatening to do so (think on
    • this for our clients).Sympathetic joy: Rejoicing in the well-being of others…watching puppies play
    • brings up feelings of joy…can we have this same joy when someone we are challenged by gets something we would like to have?

    • Relevance of the distinction in clinical practice: If we cannot allow ourselves to feel pleasure then there will be an obstacle to feeling joy for ourselves or others. Cultivating and finding joy can be helpful for clients suffering from depression (Wegela pg. 94)…We do this by focusing attention and interest when our clients are expressing their joy, appreciation and gratitude.from
    • lecture 11/11/11: taking desire as path...”cultivating true pleasure” think of the pleasure that comes from meditation practice...somehow we get the idea that misery is good for us....what’s beneath this? The
    • trouble happens when we use pleasure to bypass the truth of our impermanence/suffering.
  7. The teachings of emptiness are said to teach a middle way between extremes of nihilism and eternalism. What do these terms mean? What might be nihilistic client be complaining about? What might an eternalistic client complain about?
  8. Nagarjuna tells us "Let go of I am... Let go of I am not". How do you understand these lines?
  9. Discuss your experience of uncoupling emotion and thought in meditation practice. How might insight gained from this practice be useful in therapy?
  10. How can understanding pratityatsamutpada or dependent-arising help us to begin to understand the teachings on "groundlessness" or emptiness?
  11. Traditionally the first noble truth is taught before the teachings on emptiness. Why do you imagine this is so? How might the teachings on emptiness be used as a support for spiritual bypassing?
  12. This semester we moved into "mind training" practices where we intentionally seek to cultivate certain states of mind. (Contemplation practice, loving kindness practice, Tonglen, etc.) Describe your experience of these practices. What seem to be your obstacles? What interests you? How do these practices differ from shamatha/vipashyana?
  13. How might the experience of creating a genogram relate to the teachings on emptiness and compassion.
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Buddhist Psychology

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