Western Psychology and Buddhism
Western psychology is concerned with the investigation of understanding the negative aspects of human behavior, emotions and the mind, and to some extent, with changing them. The Buddhist approach to the investigation of the mind is unscientific, as defined by the science of Western Psychology. It is not concerned with laboratory conditions, control groups, or ‘objectivity’ in the sense of the experimenter being separate from and impartial to the subject (Nettle, 2005). In Buddhism, the person conducting the experiment and the subject are the same. Buddhists seek truth, as do scientists. Science, for the most part, sees the world as something ...view middle of the document...
Our internal world governs our happiness, not conditions put upon us from our external environment or conditions we place on ourselves. To put it another way, our search for happiness is the very reason we’re unhappy (McLeod, 2007). Psychology considers happiness an emotion or mental state and a predictor of how well one’s life is going. Some say that happiness is a choice, and therefore a behavior that one chooses. Happiness is a way of interpreting the world, since while it may be difficult to change the world, it is always possible to change the way we look at it (McLeod, 2007).
Positive psychology, which has emerged recently, is the scientific study of human thriving. Psychology traditionally focuses on dysfunction—on people with mental illness or other psychological problems and how to treat them. Positive psychology, by contrast, is a relatively new field that examines how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled. In his 1998 APA presidential address, Seligman, the founder of positive psychology, argued that psychology had become too focused on curing mental illness according to a disease model, and that, for all intents and purposes, it had become a “victimology” (Seligman, 1998). What was needed, he averred, was a new “science of human strengths,” a positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). The field of Positive Psychology was founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play for authentic happiness. Martin Seligman created the acronym PERMA (Pleasure, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishments) to summarize Positive Psychology. Studies have shown that PERMA has given people the mental and emotional state of being happy. However, these factors are subjective and cannot bring long-term happiness for most people. If these conditions are changed unfavorably in any way, the emotional state of happiness is lost.
Basics of Buddhism
Buddhism is over 2500 hundred years old, and consists of dharma, (Buddha’s teachings). Many people believe that Buddhism is a religion, though it does not worship a supernatural power and God is absent from all Buddhist teachings. There is no belief system but it does contain some fundamental principles. Buddhism is non-dogmatic in its teachings. It encourages one to adopt an attitude that is the opposite of belief or blind faith and to use one’s intelligence instead. Buddhism encourages one to use the entire range of their mental, emotional, and spiritual abilities.
The basis of the majority of Buddha’s teachings is The Four Noble Truths. Buddha, understanding that the mind is the creator of all experience, discovered The Four Noble truths after he became enlightened. He came to the realization that human suffering is enivitable and by acknowledging what causes human suffering, one can start down the...