Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology

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Overview

This is the first book to offer Buddhist meditators a comprehensive and sympathetic examination of the differences between Asian and Western cultural and spiritual values. Harvey B. Aronson presents a constructive and practical assessment of common conflicts experienced by Westerners who look to Eastern spiritual traditions for guidance and support—and find themselves confused or disappointed. Issues addressed include:

   •  Our cultural belief that anger should not be suppressed versus the ...

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Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology

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Overview

This is the first book to offer Buddhist meditators a comprehensive and sympathetic examination of the differences between Asian and Western cultural and spiritual values. Harvey B. Aronson presents a constructive and practical assessment of common conflicts experienced by Westerners who look to Eastern spiritual traditions for guidance and support—and find themselves confused or disappointed. Issues addressed include:

   •  Our cultural belief that anger should not be suppressed versus the Buddhist teaching to counter anger and hatred
   •  Our psychotherapists' advice that attachment is the basis for healthy personal development and supportive relationships versus the Buddhist condemnation of attachments as the source of suffering
   •  Our culture's emphasis on individuality versus the Asian emphasis on interdependence and fulfillment of duties, and the Buddhist teachings on no-self, or egolessness

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An amazingly helpful book . . . Aronson realizes the value of psychotherapy, Theravada, and Tibetan Buddhism, and weaves them together so that, even outside their respective cultural contexts, their advantages are experienced and their pitfalls avoided."—Jeffrey Hopkins, Ph.D., author of Maps of the Profound and Cultivating Compassion

"As a psychotherapist and Buddhist scholar and teacher, Harvey B. Aronson has a lot of wisdom to share that will help Western Dharma practitioners to establish a healthy, clear foundation for achieving liberation. Aronson raises important questions and provides helpful insights about complications that can occur when Eastern and Western cultures come together. I have been waiting a long time for this book."—Geshe Rinpoche, author of Tibetan Yogas of Dream and Sleep

Library Journal
Aronson, a psychotherapist and Buddhist meditation teacher, addresses the fundamental differences between what many Western students expect to gain from meditation and the intentions of traditional Asian teachers. The purpose of meditation as it arose in Buddhist cultures is to realize that existence and the individual self are ephemeral, that the idea of a permanent self leads to suffering, and that the goal is to free oneself from this cycle of suffering and help others become free as well. Westerners often approach meditation with the belief that it will help them address their personal problems, an attitude their teachers usually do not comprehend. Aronson considers how Eastern and Western cultures deal differently with matters of ego, anger, love, and attachment and how psychotherapy can be used in conjunction with meditation to create a balanced psychological and spiritual life. This book is important in addressing differences in cultural perspective. General readers will appreciate the clear and jargon-free writing, and scholars will be well served by the extensive notes section. For public and academic libraries. Jerry Shuttle, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590300930
  • Publisher: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/10/2004
  • Pages: 253
  • Sales rank: 1,138,401
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Harvey B. Aronson, Ph.D., M.S.W., is a psychotherapist in private practice and a Buddhist meditation teacher. He is founder and teacher-in-residence at the Dawn Mountain Tibetan Temple, Community Center, and Research Institute in Houston, Texas. He travels and lectures on Buddhist philosophy and psychology at universities and at academic and Buddhist conferences around the country.

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Table of Contents

1 Light and shadow 1
2 Eastern ideals 10
3 The joys and perils of individuality 19
4 Mirrors and reflections 32
5 Spirituality : local and express 41
6 Psychotherapy in the context of ongoing Buddhist practice 53
7 Ego, ego on the wall : what is ego after all? 64
8 Anger : abandon it or express it? 91
9 A middle path on anger 113
10 Embodied love 127
11 Attachment East and West 151
12 Traditional approaches to nonattachment 163
13 Making nonattachment real 174
14 Presence and absence in life and practice 184
15 Practice, performance, and finding our voices 199
Epilogue : life as pilgrimage 211
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2005

    A Book to Own, Reread, and Give to Others

    The clarity with which he writes, the depth of what he knows about Buddhism and Psychology, and his insights into both--how how they can and do work together--made this book invaluable to me.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2005

    A Psychological Gem

    Dr. Aronson has written a gem. His psychological insights are warming and wonderful. His bridge to Buddhist meditation practice is both unique and invaluable. Rarely have I seen a psychotherapist who understands and communicates the quality of a successful psychotherapy so well. Coupling that gift with his ease in personal revelations, Dr. Aronson creates a warm holding environment, one that encourages the reader to feel equally comfortable and at ease in looking at his or her own vulnerable feelings. The ability to communicate both the value of a good psychotherapy and to capture its warm essence is very rare. Dr. Aronson has another gift. As a long-time Buddhist practitioner and professor, he possesses a deep personal knowledge of how the practice is used, and misused, by Westerners. Dr. Aronson captures this by providing a very interesting cross-cultural perspective, picking up strengths and weaknesses as Buddhism has been both transplanted and translated from Asia to the West. He has a unique and invaluable perspective on the way Buddhist teachings are recruited to one's individual neurosis. Dr. Aronson retranslates Buddhist proscriptions against 'anger.' He believes the Asian teachers were not admonishing one to avoid an emotional state, but rather to avoid destructive actions. Aronson believes that angry feelings are often helpful, or even necessary for some people to grow, and to become able have an effective meditation practice. This opinion is consistent with his gloss that the advice to avoid anger should be read as avoiding destructive action. This is so because if a person was the victim of destructive actions, or a longer destructive upbringing, hiding or disavowing those destructive actions perpetrated against the person would actually be to collude with one or more aggressors, and that can only done at a high personal cost. The cost could take many forms, including disengaging with the world, having symptoms of depression or guilt, substance abuse, chronic relational problems, etc. In this discussion, we see Aronson capturing therapy at its best. My only criticism of this book is that its title didn't offer a way to easily capture the imagination of the psychotherapeutic world, as I think psychotherapists, and people interesting in psychotherapy are a natural audience. I appreciate this wonderful book and encourage others to enjoy this fascinating and stimulating book. Mark Siegert, Ph.D. Clinical Psychologist, Psychoanalyst

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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