Talk:Buddhism and psychology

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Related texts[edit]

Today, an IP anon added a Fryba text to the "Bibliography" of this article. While I'm vaguely familiar with (and own) Fryba's "Art of Happiness," I did not use it in writing this article. So I moved the newly added Fryba text to a new section called "Related texts." I'm curious to know:

  1. Am I correct in assuming that there is a benefit to including in the "Bibliography" only sources that were used to write (and that are actually referenced in) the article?
  2. Am I correct in creating a "Related texts" section (after all, if something is on the web that is related to this topic but was not used to write this article, then it can be included in "External links")? Is there a (more) standard WP section title for such?

Thanks for any civil, constructive feedback,
Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 19:29, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

P.S. Assuming this "Related texts" (or something similarly named) section stands, then personally I view this as an open door for everyone to add their favorite Buddhism-and-psychology-related publication (including articles, etc., but excluding self-published spam, etc. -- just where is that fine line?). Given that such a list probably extends into the hundreds, this could actually develop into a thoughtful reference section ...? Just an after-thought, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 19:33, 23 January 2008 (UTC)

I have the impression that psychological knowledge included in this article is seriously outdated. For instance, the weak points of the medical model were discovered decades ago and at least two significant health models have been developed since that time: holistic and ecological. [Scobin, 23:53, 30 May 2008]

"Insight Center" (L.A.) advert removed[edit]

An IP-address editor added the following today:

In Los Angeles, the Insight Center [3] provides evidence-based training to the general public, psychotherapists and nurses in basic and advanced practices of mindfulness meditation and mindfulness psychotherapy. The Center offers consultations and trainings accredited by the American Psychological Association and the California Board of Behavioral Sciences as a Continuing Education Provider.

This was added prior to information on Erich Fromm, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Marsha Linehan and Albert Ellis.

I suspect the editor who added this is proud of the "Insight Center." I suspect they are somehow affiliated with it. I suspect the Insight Center is an excellent, wonderful, truly helpful resource. The problem with its placement here is that:

  • There is no evidence that the Insight Center (unlike Fromm, Kabat-Zinn, Linehan and Ellis) is historically significant.
  • There is no evidence that they do anything truly unique that is worthy of an encyclopedic entry according to the academic/scholastic community or based on a review of history.
  • There is nothing to suggest that they should for any reason precede pioneers in psychotherapy such as Fromm and Ellis or pioneers in incorporating Buddhist mediation in psychotherapy such as Kabat-Zin ane Linehan.
  • Wikipedia has many reasons for not including advertisement – not even in the "External links" list (see WP:EL) – and this unfortunately appears to be advertisement. In short, if every institution throughout the world that offered such a practice were to add a paragraph to themselves at the top of such a section then: (1) this article would be very long; and, (2) this article would involve constant edit warring (e.g., who goes first?).
  • Way before any person familiar with the field would even contemplate including a place like the "Insight Center," they'd include in this list the pioneering work done at U.Mass (e.g., see; but, even that did not make this article given the prioritization of space usage.

Per WP:Consensus, I'm going to revert the above insertion of information concerning the "Insight Center." Before an attempt is made to add it back, the matter should be discussed here and a communal resolution such be reached. (Otherwise, such non-consensual additions will be treated as vandalism and related warnings will be placed on the originating editor's talk page.)

I deeply respect that the editor who added the above believes in the work of the "Insight Center" and I assume that they are among the thousands of such practitioners doing laudable work. I hope the above concerns, rationally considered, are understood if not completely agreed with. Thanks for your good works, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 02:10, 21 July 2008 (UTC)


This section is at best incomplete. It is barely comprehensible and contains references whose meanings are not explicated. Please improve. (talk) 08:02, 3 July 2009 (UTC)

I agree that the section in question is "barely comprehensible." Furthermore, it lacks any cohesion with the rest of the article which is multi-disciplinary and historically organized. (Through the article's WP "History," you can see that this section was stuck in by a different editor after 99% of the rest of the article was stabilized.) In addition, this small section betrays, at best, a specific school's thought. It relies heavily on highly disputed, idiosyncratic jargon (e.g., "Buddha Dharma"???). Moveover, some of its meager, illiterate (e.g., "Psyche" with a capital "P"???), inadequately sourced content -- e.g., "The principal and central teaching of Buddha Dharma is the 'consciousness continuum' or the Mindstream" -- is both bizarre and false. (Without question, "the principal and central teaching" of Buddhism is liberation from suffering.)
I'd like to suggest that this obscure, discordant, sectarian, misleading section be removed from this article. Are there parts of it that can be salvaged and incorporated elsewhere in the article? Would anyone reasonably object to the removal of this section at this time?
Larry 18:26, 13 July 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)
Just for clarity, the text to be removed is:


Psychology is the study of the Psyche often rendered in English as mind. The principal and central teaching of Buddha Dharma is the 'consciousness continuum' or the Mindstream. As Mañjuśrīmitra states in Verse 62 of the Bodhicittabhavana, a seminal early text of Ati Yoga, here rendered into English by Kunpal Tulku (1995: unpaginated):

Yet no phenomena exists for either ordinary people or for enlightened Saints other than the continuum (santana) of their own mind (citta).[1]

In human experience, a particular station of sentient beings, all phenomena or dharmas are mediated through and by the mind[stream]. Importantly, mind as embodied in the cartesian dualism of mind and body does not exist in the Buddha Dharma and instead is replaced with the mindstream which may be conveyed in a traditional metaphorical relationship where the mindstream is the flame of the candle of the skandha: where in exegetical commentary, the flame never touches the wick of the candle.

If no one objects, then for the aforementioned reasons, I'll delete this "Mindstream" section in seven days. Additionally, if anyone would like to see this section's blockquote (attributed to the Bodhicittabhavana) somehow preserved elsewhere in the article, please identify an appropriate place. Thanks, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 16:04, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps one intermediary solution would be to incorporate some of this material as a parenthetical comment in the subsection Buddhism_and_psychology#Overview_of_the_Abhidhamma? For instance, might it be worthwhile to insert, after this subsection's blockquote, something like:

(In some lineages, Buddhist psychology developed alternately and/or incrementally into a more purely phenomenological metaphysics, as can be found in Manjusrimitra's Bodhicittabhavana: "Yet no phenomena exists for either ordinary people or for enlightened Saints other than the continuum [santana] of their own mind [citta]."[2])

While this is still somewhat jargon-heavy/dense, it appropriately contextualizes the material as being of a specific school, includes it in an appropriate part of this overall article, and makes an explicit distinction between a purely psychological context (which is central to this article) and a school-specific metaphysical context (which is a fundamental aspect of the quoted material). It also gets rid of a lot of the questionable, unsourced assertions. Would this be better than the current material and better than outright deleting all of the "mindstream" material? Any other solutions? - Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 17:55, 15 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, it's been over a week and no one has objected to the above recommendations to delete the identified section. In addition, no one has expressed any desire for any alternative to deletion. Moreover, after additional thought, I've come to the conclusion that the text to be deleted would not be of benefit to readers if modified and transplanted; in my mind, when attempting to see clearly, the core text does not actually say anything special in the current context of this article. So, I am simply going to delete the section.
If anyone disagrees, please state so here in a thoughtful manner and allow as much time (10 days) for discussion as I have allowed prior to deleting this aforementioned section. Thanks so much, Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 05:05, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

, Chogyam Trungpa[edit]

I suggest that the section about Chogyam Trungpa and the naropa university is deleted from the article because the section looks like an , advertisment for Chogyam`s books and the university.-- (talk) 13:03, 23 April 2011 (UTC)

Differences between Buddhism and psychotherapy[edit]

There is a good explanation here of the differences between Buddhism and psychotherapy:

In Western psychotherapy, a patient is similarly led toward insight into his or her mental state in order to affect a cure. In this, the goals of Buddhism and Western psychotherapy overlap. But while there are many similarities, not all goals are shared. Assuming a commonality where fundamental differences exist can cause confusion.
According to books I have read and my discussions with psychoanalysts, the aim of psychoanalysis is to bring the various elements of the psyche—emotions, memories, and so forth—into harmony so that the person develops a greater cohesion of his sense of self. This is the final goal. In contrast, the aspiration in Buddhism is to rise above the very concept of self or “I.” Rather than harmonizing the disharmonious elements of the psyche so it becomes whole, and hence reifying the concept of the self, the goal according to the Buddhist teachings is to transcend the very concept of the self. This is clearly a big difference. - Tsering, Geshe Tashi (2006-11-10). Buddhist Psychology: The Foundation of Buddhist Thought (p. 2). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

It would be helpful to work this into the article. - Dorje108 (talk) 14:31, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

Another good quote on this subject:

According to Western psychology, maladapted states of mind are unwholesome patterns that develop from a variety of causes, the most prevalent of which are early close relationships and unwholesome integration with the larger world. Unhealthy states of mind pertain to some trauma or mistreatment, emotional or physical. The causes are very much associated with this life only. Buddhist psychology looks at a much subtler cause: the basic inability to experience reality as it is. It is this primary unknowing that is the root of all our problems. It begins with ignorance and continues to solidify the world based on delusion. In particular, our obscured perception develops into a strong misconception that grasps a solid self. There are no easy ways to explain this primary misapprehension. - Wangmo, Marcia Dechen (2011-12-06). Confessions of a Gypsy Yogini: Experience through Mistakes (Kindle Locations 218-224). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition. - Dorje108 (talk) 20:17, 11 February 2012 (UTC)

Here is another useful quote on this subject:

Clinical psychology has focused primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of mental disease, and only recently has scientific attention turned to understanding and cultivating positive mental health. The Buddhist tradition, on the other hand, has focused for over 2,500 years on cultivating exceptional states of mental well-being as well as identifying and treating psychological problems. Mental balance and well-being: Building bridges between Buddhism and Western psychology. Wallace, B. Alan; Shapiro, Shauna L., American Psychologist, Vol 61(7), Oct 2006, 690-701 - Dorje108 (talk) 19:04, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Here is another useful quote from Mark Epstein:

A lot of therapists come to me with an interest in how to use Buddhist psychology to enhance their work. And often they are thinking much more concretely about "should I teach my patients to meditate," "how can I use Buddhist wisdom to help my patients feel better and help them resolve their neuroses," etc. I always feel that the most important way Buddhism can impact psychotherapy is by helping the therapist. What Buddhism teaches very practically is a psychotherapeutic attitude: how to deploy psychotherapeutic attention both intrapsychically within the self and as well as interpersonally. When you are training as a psychotherapist you don't necessarily get specific help in how to deploy that kind of attention, but Buddhism is all about that. So I try to turn it back: "Here, this is for you." If you get something from it, maybe you will be able to make it come alive for your patients. Mark Epstein on Mindfulness and Psychotherapy - Dorje108 (talk) 19:18, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

David Brazier[edit]

After the expansion of the David Brazier-section by Caroline brazier, the whole section was removed as being WP:UNDUE. I object this removal; Brazier has done a careful and insightful analysis and translation of the Four Noble Truths, which is worth mentioning. I would rather speak of WP:COI than of WP:UNDUE. The original section was not added by Caroline brazier, but by me. Joshua Jonathan (talk) 04:49, 19 October 2012 (UTC)

Four Noble Truths and the medical model[edit]

I suspect that this section (Four Noble Truths and the medical model) is an editor's personal opinion about the Four Noble Truths and "the medical model." No reliable, published sources are cited, and thus the section is probably original research (or mere speculation), which is prohibited on Wikipedia. If nobody can cite sources for the claim that "differences between traditional Buddhism and contemporary institutionalized Western psychology can be conceived in terms used in the following table," as this section states, then the section should be deleted. (It is not sufficient to cite the DSM, because the DSM does not actually contain the claims made in this section.) Or the topic of the section could be changed to one that can be supported by credible sources. There is a fairly extensive literature on the relation between the Four Noble Truths and ancient Indian medicine: for examples, see the discussion and bibliography in: Anālayo, Bhikkhu (2011), "Right view and the scheme of the four truths in early Buddhism: the Saṃyukta-āgama parallel to the Sammādiṭṭhi-sutta and the simile of the four skills of a physician", Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies (7): 11–44  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help). I would be willing to rewrite the section to address that topic, but I would want agreement from other editors before putting much work into it. Porelbiencomun (talk) 15:49, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

I agree the section looks very much like original research. It seems like there are two possible topics here:
Regards -- Dorje108 (talk) 17:14, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for your response. I agree that Mark Epstein has done important work integrating Buddhism and psychotherapy. But I see that Epstein's interpretation of the Four Noble Truths is already mentioned in this article's section on Mark Epstein. David Brazier's interpretation of the four truths also appears in this article's section on David Brazier. I think it is a good idea to keep each thinker's interpretation of the four truths in the section associated with that thinker.
Since the lead section of this article announces four approaches, and each of those approaches comprise the four main 1st-level sections, it seems unjustified to have a fifth 1st-level section, especially when that section cites no relevant sources and appears to be original research.
The claim made in this section, namely that "differences between traditional Buddhism and contemporary institutionalized Western psychology can be conceived in terms used in the following table," is not only unreferenced; it also seems to me poorly conceptualized. One could make the case that this is not just a matter of "differences"; it could also be seen as a matter of "similarities" that involve a transculturally isomorphic logical pattern. Bhikkhu Anālayo, in the article that I cited above, characterizes this pattern as: "item in question; cause of the item; opposite of the item; cause of opposite of the item." Anālayo bases this pattern on the Sammādiṭṭhi-sutta (of the Majjhima-nikāya) and its parallels in the Madhyama-āgama and the Saṃyukta-āgama. He shows how it parallels the "Discourse on the physician" in the Saṃyukta-āgama and its pattern of: disease; understanding the causes of the disease; cure; understanding the causes of the cure. One could make the case that this pattern unites all the major concepts (akusala/kusala, ādīnava/pratipakṣa, saṃsāra/nirvāṇa, etc.) and schools of Buddhism, and can be found in a number of other traditions as well. That case could be made, but if that case has not already been made in a reliable published source then the place to make that case is in an original article, not on Wikipedia.
I think the best course of action is probably to delete the section. Porelbiencomun (talk) 21:17, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
  • I agree it's best to delete the section "Four Noble Truths and the medical model". You might wait a bit longer to see if anyone else wants to comment on this.
  • Regarding "Four Noble Truths and modern psychotherapy", I've actually just added a section on that, since I think it's important enough to warrant its own section. I get your point that this is already mentioned in the sections on Brazier and Epstein, but it's fine to repeat information if it is being presented in a different context. Also, I am sure that I will find additional sources that make this comparison.
  • Your point regarding "item and question; cause of item..." is a very good point and this view is also presented in the Tibetan tradition as "two sets of cause and effect." (For example, Chogyam Trungpa and the Dalai Lama make this presentation.) I am sure that Gethin also makes this point in his book "Foundations of Buddhism." This is a topic that I have been meaning to add to the article on the Four Noble Truths, but I haven't found the time yet.
Best regards, Dorje108 (talk) 22:30, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
I appreciate that you took the initiative to create a new section on the Four Noble Truths and modern psychotherapy, but I'm going to undo that edit for the following reasons:
  • You state: "A number of contemporary authors have noted a direct relationship between the Four Noble Truths and modern psychotherapy." I imagine that this is true, but you don't cite any sources except for the sections on Epstein and Brazier on the Four Noble Truths page.
  • Since both Epstein and Brazier are already mentioned in previous sections of this page, and no additional information is added in the new section you created, I think it is best to cross-reference the sections on the Four Noble Truths page to the sections on Epstein and Brazier on this page. I will do that now.
  • I don't think it is justifiable to add a new 1st-level section that contains only one sentence referring to information that is already available elsewhere on the page. A 1st-level section should contain a significant quantity of information, as do the other 1st-level sections on the page. I hope you agree that this is reasonable.
I also want to thank you for mentioning the Tibetan teaching on "two sets of cause and effect." That's very interesting and I agree that it should be added to the Four Noble Truths page. I hope you find time to do so. I searched on Google for that phrase and found this reference, which would be a good source: Tsering, Tashi (2005), The four noble truths, Boston: Wisdom Publications, p. 17, ISBN 0861712706 .
Please note that when you make edits, you don't need to use underscores in wiki markup (just spaces instead of underscores), and when linking to subsections you can specify an alternate anchor text by using a pipe so that the literal markup doesn't appear. In the edit that you made (and I undid), the text displayed literal underscores, which is not good style because it is not very readable. See the Wikipedia cheatsheet. Best wishes, Porelbiencomun (talk) 23:54, 10 February 2013 (UTC)
Hi Porelbiencomun, Really, the new section I created was a good idea because it is a topic that can be developed. I suggest that you think of this article as a work in progress, rather than as a something that is near completion. But since I don't really have time to develop the topic now, I am not going to worry about it, and we can leave it as is.
Thanks for the reference to the book by Tashi Tsering. I actually have that book on Kindle and I think it is a great reference. I have limited time right now, but I will add that topic (on two sets of cause and effect) to the article on FNT when I get a chance. Best regards, Dorje108 (talk) 01:19, 11 February 2013 (UTC)
I know well that everything is impermanent and that editing Wikipedia is a never-ending process, but there are an infinity of good topics and you can't create a section for all of them. You create a section when you have substantive content to contribute. I argue that the content you contributed was not substantive enough to merit a new section. Do some more research (beyond Brazier and Epstein) on links between the four truths and contemporary psychology so that you can prove that the topic merits a new section, then come back and make the section and in that case I won't delete it. You may find, while doing your research, that psychologists haven't written as much on the topic as you think. But the burden of proof is on you to do that research. Peace, Porelbiencomun (talk) 02:02, 11 February 2013 (UTC)
Back in 2007, when I created this article, I stuck in the initial text and table that was later to be put in the section, "The Four Noble Truths and the medical model." Back then, it was something that helped me find linkages between my spiritual and professional practice. As you two -- Porelbiencomun and the ever-thoughtful, caring and erudite Dorje108 -- point out, this is at best "original research" and has no place on Wikipedia. Moreover, six years later, I know it to be bad Buddhism. So, my apologies for inserting it. My gratitude to you both for identifying it. And, momentarily, I will delete it. In line with my understanding of WP practice (at least from six years ago?), I'm inserting the deleted material just below. Larry Rosenfeld (talk) 18:54, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

Broadly speaking, differences between traditional Buddhism and contemporary institutionalized Western psychology[3] can be conceived in terms used in the following table.

Buddhism (Four Noble Truths) Western psychology
problem suffering (dukkha)[a] significant distress, disability, pain, loss of freedom, suicidality[b]
etiology craving (tanha), ignorance (avijja)[c] conditioning, genetics, biology, childhood development, socialization
goal Enlightenment (bodhi), Nirvana[d] normal or higher functioning, lack of initial symptoms
treatment Noble Eightfold Path[e] counseling, therapy, medication, systems advocacy

New article in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry based on this Wikipedia article?[edit]

Today I found an article in a peer-reviewed journal that appears to be heavily based on this Wikipedia article (Buddhism and psychology) but does not properly attribute the Wikipedia article as a source (as would be expected under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License). The article in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry covers the same topics as this Wikipedia article, uses many of the same quotations, and does not add any additional conclusions. It appears to be essentially a repackaged, better written version of this Wikipedia article. I have contacted the editor of that journal to alert them of the similarity and the lack of attribution: Aich, Tapas Kumar (2013). "Buddha philosophy and western psychology". Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 55 (6): 165–170. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.105517.  Porelbiencomun (talk) 01:24, 18 February 2013 (UTC)

I find it funny that Aich 2013 repackaged this rather superficial Wikipedia article and got it published in a psychiatric journal (a journal that is indexed in PubMed, no less!) without acknowledging that his published article was largely based on this Wikipedia article. It's especially funny since all but four of the 28 texts that Aich cites in his footnotes are cited in this Wikipedia article. The four texts he cites that are not from this Wikipedia article are three web sites (not peer reviewed) and an introductory textbook. It's possible that Aich never actually consulted any of the references from this Wikipedia article; in other words, although his article cites 28 sources, he may have only consulted 5 sources: this Wikipedia article, the introductory textbook, and three other web sites. He didn't cite any of the burgeoning literature, not yet cited in this Wikipedia article, that has appeared on this topic in the last ten years in reputable peer-reviewed journals such as:

To me this is a reminder of how influential Wikipedia articles are and of how important it is for Wikipedia editors to do their best to present the most complete and up-to-date account of a topic. People will take this information as authoritative and use it in surprising ways (even republishing it in a peer-reviewed journal that is indexed in PubMed, as we see in this case). Porelbiencomun (talk) 19:07, 19 February 2013 (UTC)

John Bohannon just published an article in the journal Science that revealed shoddy review practices at a number of open-access scholarly journals: Bohannon, John (4 October 2013). "Who's afraid of peer review?". Science. 342 (6154): 60–65. doi:10.1126/science.342.6154.60.  Kausik Datta discusses Bohannon's article on his blog: Datta, Kausik (4 October 2013). "What Science's 'sting operation' reveals: open access fiasco or peer review hellhole?". In Sciento Veritas. SciLogs International.  Datta quotes Bohannon as saying, "about one-third of the journals targeted in this sting are based in India — overtly or as revealed by the location of editors and bank accounts — making it the world's largest base for open-access publishing; and among the India-based journals in my sample, 64 accepted the fatally flawed papers and only 15 rejected it." Datta asks: "How and when did India become this haven for dubious, low quality Open-Access publishing?" In reply, I published a comment about the above incident (an article in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry based on this Wikipedia article but without properly citing the Wikipedia article as a source) as an example of lax scholarly publishing standards in India. Porelbiencomun (talk) 17:50, 5 October 2013 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Some edits[edit]

I've made some serious edits, this article needed (and still needs) a lot of work. There was very little on the actual psychological content of the Pali canon, which has now been remedied in the new section I wrote up called "Psychology in the tripitaka". The section on Abhidhamma is particularly weak, containing just a few long quotations praising the Abhidhamma. I will soon get to work on this and make a general overview (since most of this material is covered in the actual Abhidhamma wiki article, it should just be a comparative and general section).

I have also reorganized the central section of this article, adding a subsection on the history of the contact and literature on Western psychology and Buddhism, as well as a subsection on the developments in Japanese psychology which was sorely lacking. The sections on Naropa university and on Mind and life have been removed from the Abhidhamma section and have been placed into the middle of this central section on Buddhism and psychology, because they should be more general instead of being based solely on Abhidhamma, hopefuly I will have time to add to these as well.

I have not added anything to the rest of the article, the section on clinical practice could probably use some more work but I am leaving that alone for now. Any suggestions, tips or sources? Javierfv1212 - Sabbe Satta Sukhi Hontu 19:43, 23 July 2016 (UTC)


  1. ^ Manjushrimitra (undated). Bodhicittabhavana. NB: An English rendering of this text by Kunpal Tulku (2005) is entitled The Cultivation of Enlightened Mind. This is an English rendering from the Tibetan translation of Sri Simha and the Tibetan translator Bhikshu Vairocanaraksita, the original text is no longer extant. Source: [1] (accessed: November 28, 2007)
  2. ^ Manjushrimitra (undated). Bodhicittabhavana, verse 62. An English rendering of this text by Kunpal Tulku (2005) is entitled The Cultivation of Enlightened Mind. This is an English rendering from the Tibetan translation of Sri Simha and the Tibetan translator Bhikshu Vairocanaraksita, the original text is no longer extant. Source: [2] (accessed: November 28, 2007).
  3. ^ For instance, as embodied by the DSM-IV-TR. Also see, "medical model."
  4. ^ Ñanamoli, 1993

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