Topics for Paper I, REL 407/507 Buddhism and Psychotherapy

Due date: Tuesday, Feb 7, in class.


1. Jack Engler, "Being Somebody and Being Nobody"

How did Engler's view of the relation between "being somebody" and "being nobody" change? How does that affect how he thinks Westerners might engage the Buddhist practice of realizing 'no-self' or "being nobody"? Provide one concrete analogy or illustration of how this realization works in relation to "being somebody." What is/are problems with the model of the self he presents?

2. Robin Hertz, "Science-ing Mindfulness"

Discuss two differences Hertz identifies between traditional paths of Buddhist practice and contemporary Western mindfulness-based interventions. From the perspective of Jeremy Safran's essay, "Introduction: Psychoanalysis and Buddhism as Cultural Institutions," provide at least two points that help to expand and illuminate these differences in terms of cultural history/context.

3. Jung's Commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation

Discuss Jung's presentation of the similarities and differences between the Buddhist view of the mind, on the one hand, and Jung's view of Westerner's minds, on the other. Expand on Jung's discussion based on Jeremy Safran's essay, "Introduction: Psychoanalysis and Buddhism as Cultural Institutions," by a) providing two points of cultural contextualization, and b) one or two points where Safran might disagree with Jung's views presented in his essay.

4. Ann Ulanov, Creativity and Madness

Select one or two case examples that Ann Ulanov presents that describes the disintegration of the ruling principle of ego-consciousness, how this leads to confrontation with the psychological complex previously hidden from view, and the return to creative integration between consciousness and the unconscious. Focus on how the repetitive compulsion to the revisit the emotional and psychic experience of the complex becomes transformed into creative integration through appropriate ritual practice (of psychotherapy, dreamwork).

5. Ann Ulanov on the Jungian View of the Psyche (consciousness and unconscioues) and Buddhist Views of Mind and Interdependence

Compare and contrast two views of the mind: Ulanov's Jungian view of the psyche as constellated in terms of ego consciousness, society, and inner unconscious with either A) Jung's presentation of Buddhist Mind as he discusses it in
his "Psychological Commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation" (CR6), or B) Jeremy Safran's presentation of Buddhist view of self, non-self, and interdependence in "Introduction: Psychoanalysis and Buddhism as Cultural Institutions" (CR1).

6. Ann Ulanov on the Creative Return from Madness (Individuation) and Jack Engler on awakening to Buddhist No-Self

Compare and contrast Ann Ulanov's presentation of Jungian individuation -- the disintegration of rigid ego-consciousness, facing the abyss, and returning to a creative consciousness that is integrative with the Unconscious -- with Jack Engler's view of the attainment of Buddhist no-self in "Chapter 1: Being Somebody and Being Nobody" (CR2).

7. Select your own topic

Identify one passage from among the readings thus far that relate to a topic concerning Buddhism and psychotherapy that you would like to develop throughout the course. Formulate a one paragraph description of the topic that you would like to pursue, in terms of a) a psychological problem that you would like to examine, in a clinical sense; b) a philosophical problem of the similarities and differences between a particular Western psychological view of mind and a Buddhist one; c) a comparison and contrast between Buddhist views of practice and psychotherapeutic views of therapy. Discuss how the passage you have selected helps to address the topic or question that you have selected to work on. If there is another topic you would like to do on your own, then please see me. You must submit your topic paragraph by email to me by Thursday, Feb 2.