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Seminar: Buddhism and The West

October 24, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Buddhism and Psychotherapy, facilitated by Sasha Strong

Please read the Orientation (#0) and one or two of the other texts. (For extra fun, try reading them with both a hermeneutics of faith and a hermeneutics of suspicion.)

The articles are here:

0. A Brief Orientation to Psychotherapy and its Relationship to Mindfulness and Buddhism (Strong, 2019)
I explain psychotherapy and the research context in which mindfulness came to prominence.

1. Kinds and Dimensions of Mindfulness (Dorjee, 2010)
Writing in the journal Mindfulness, Dorjee reviews how mindfulness has been understood so far in psychology and cognitive science, articulates its speculative cognitive and neural functions, and argues that there isn’t just one kind of mindfulness.

2. Therapeutic Aims in Psychotherapy and Meditation (Engler, 1986)
Engler articulates the value and dangers of mindfulness practice in the context of contemporary Western forms of psychopathology.

3. Mindfulness: A Dialogue between Buddhism and Clinical Psychology (Kang & Wittingham, 2010)
The authors provide an overview of major psychotherapies that incorporate mindfulness, articulate how mindfulness meditation practice shows up in the many Buddhist schools, and suggest new directions in the dialogue between Buddhism and psychology.

4. A Meta-Critique of Mindfulness Critiques (Walsh, 2016)
In this book chapter, Zack Walsh summarizes and critiques the various critiques of mindfulness he has encountered, and argues that mindfulness has been subverted to the ends of those in power to serve as both a palliative and a commodity in neoliberal capitalism.


Group Description:
What is Buddhist truth? How is Buddhism evolving as it takes root and grows in the United States and the west?

These are the two fundamental questions that this group seeks to answer. We’ll approach these questions from the perspective that there is something both timeless and transcendent about the truth Buddhism describes, but also that the practice and expression of Buddhism is both time-bound and culturally-dependent. Participants are encouraged to form their own answers to the above questions, which for the purpose of our discussion will be perpetually regarded as “open.”

The global moment is unique for Buddhism, which “encounters itself anew” as its major branches converge after 100s or even 1,000s of years of separation, while simultaneously being powerfully influenced by: western ideologies such as romanticism, nihilism, and postmodernism; scientific-materialism and its offshoots such as quantum physics and the brain sciences; popular culture and world-cultures; consumerism and spiritual-consumerism; and countless other forces both overt and subtle, which we shall spend no small amount of time attempting to elucidate during our discussions.

Our method is to meet each week to discuss a text. We’ll split our efforts between reading (1) primary texts from the three major Buddhist lineages (Theravada, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism); (2) primary texts of western philosophers who’ve been influenced by Buddhism or who have ideas compatible with Buddhist philosophy; (3) secondary texts of recent scholarship that offer insights relevant to our endeavor; and (4) tertiary texts of a wide variety of related and not-so-related topics as the group sees fit and which align with our trajectory, wherever it may ultimately take us.

Readings will likely be between 20-50 pages per week, depending on the difficulty of the text and its “discussion potential.”

Upcoming readings / topics:
– Buddhist Romanticism, Thanissaro Bhikkhu


October 24, 2019
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Event Category:


The Slide Inn
2348 SE Ankeny St
Portland, OR 97214 us
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