Incorporating Tibetan Buddhism into Modern Psychotherapy
As the world moves into the twenty first century, Western civilizations are witnessing a surge of new technology, ideas and economic success. Urbanization is spreading rapidly and Western society’s push for progression is becoming more apparent. However, this obsession with advancement has begun to take its toll on the happiness of the citizens. Studies have shown that in 2002, up to 13 percent of U.S. citizens suffered from mental disorders and that this number has only increased since then (Rinpche 60). As a result of our push for new technology, more techniques and medication are evolving and being used in psychotherapy. We must, however, wonder if it is time to try something else? Despite new advancements in medication and psychology research, we are still witnessing an increase in psychology patients and it may be time to acknowledge the idea that we may not be able to solve these problems with the same mentality that created them. Fortunately, during this progressive push there have been a growing number of Western pioneers with the open mind of trying something new, specifically in the area of psychotherapy, and have been researching and experimenting with different forms of Eastern philosophy and its use in psychotherapy (Spretnak 2).
One such philosophy that has been growing in popularity throughout the West is Tibetan Buddhism. I believe that Western society has reached a point where we must try something new in order to help increase the happiness of its citizens and that Tibetan Buddhism may hold the answer. After studying and examining the similarities and differences between Buddhist and Western psychotherapy philosophies and goals, there is strong evidence that psychotherapy patients would benefit from the incorporation and embodiment of certain Buddhist ideas, particularly those patients suffering from depression and anxiety. To prove the benefits of incorporating Buddhist philosophies into Western psychotherapy, I will examine three specific Buddhist ideas: the connection of experience and meaning, the idea of emptiness and the loss of the ego, and the true nature of the mind.
In order to examine the benefits of incorporating Buddhist ideas for psychotherapy patients, we must first move past the common Western idea that Buddhism is too culture-bound and religious-oriented to be incorporated into Western societies. While many Eastern cultures do consider Buddhism as their primary religion, the philosophies behind the religious practices are psychologically based (Michalon 203). The Dalai Lama, one of the Buddhists primary religious leaders, agreed to this when he sad, “It is possible for people to adopt various Buddhist meditative techniques or mental training without being a Buddhist (Gay 172).” It is of no threat to the religion of any psychotherapy patient to be able to understand and incorporate Buddhist ideas into his or her way of life. In...