As its title suggests, Dharma Psychology is a fruitful marriage of East and West that blends scientific knowledge of our mental and sensory processes with time-honored experiential wisdom about human nature. The result is an eminently compassionate and lucid approach to the human predicament that enhances the Buddha’s teachings on suffering with a detailed explanation of why and how it arises –and what can be done about it.
Although it is not academic, the book thoroughly analyzes the hidden workings of the human mind, including the path of incoming sense data; the subliminal complexes that interfere with its processing; the tension and stress arising from the conflicts of these stained visceral, emotional and mental complexes with each other, with existing social norms and with the inner voice that cries for the restoration of natural harmony and balance; and the often phony resolutions we implement to assuage those conflicts through cognitive dissonance. In so doing, it depicts an anatomy of human suffering familiar to many yet laden with the ultimate promise that there is a way out.
Shanjian is equally straightforward indeed in his appraisal of human beings’ potential to retrieve their pure nature. His analysis covers the natural processes involved in that recovery (curiosity, creativity, imagination and humor, among others), reviews compatible humanistic psychology models, and establishes a framework where they can be combined with meditation techniques such as mindfulness, clear comprehension and vipassana (insight meditation) to bring about a release from the symptoms of suffering. Seldom before have the arms for self-liberation been laid so openly before the eyes and hands of the general public.
Complete with multiple diagrams and references ranging from the ancient Vedas and Shakespeare to Freud and Simon & Garfunkel, plus an appendix on how to practice vipassana and an index, Dharma Psychology will be an invaluable source for psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists, as well as for meditation instructors.
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