12/02/2018 - Are You Looking to Buddhism When You Should Be Looking to Therapy? (C. W. Huntington Jr.)
The ultimate goal of Buddhist practice isn’t about achieving mental health.
By C. W. Huntington, Jr., SPRING 2018
Some 30 years ago Jack Engler published an influential study based on his experience as both a Buddhist meditation teacher and a clinical psychologist. He had discovered over the years that many people who come to Buddhism are looking for the kind of help they ought properly to seek in psychotherapy. “With the ‘triumph of the therapeutic’ in Western culture,” he wrote, there is a tendency in mindfulness meditation to “analyze mental content instead of simply observing it.”
In more recent years this conflation between Buddhist practice and psychotherapy has only deepened. Books tracing associations between the two traditions have proliferated, and the use of mindfulness meditation in a therapeutic setting has become commonplace. Indeed, pristine, unassailable mental health is often assumed to be the ultimate goal of all study and practice of the dharma. more...