PSYCHOLOGY IN TIBETAN BUDDHISM--A BRIEF SUMMARY

 
NOTES ON WALTER TRUETT ANDERSON'S OPEN SECRETS: A WESTERN GUIDE TO TIBETAN BUDDHISM. New York: Viking Press.
 
 
Note: Tibetan Buddhism as we know it is a synthesis of Buddha's teachings as transmitted through the Mahayana tradition with the traditional Tibetan religion that existed before Buddhism reached Tibet. Particularly in its imagery and stories, dealt with in considerable detail in Anderson's book but not much here, it is different from anything else on Earth.
 

The open secret -- recognition that a large part of yourself is secret from yourself -- available, yet blocked by such obstacles as fear, ignorance, the ego, and socially conditioned beliefs about human nature.

 
Vajrayana -- "the diamond vehicle." The symbol represents shunyata -- emptiness -- at the center and male and female energies coming out of it.
 
Shunyata -- "emptiness" -- discovering that thoughts are not things
 
Samanvaya -- the act of reconciling contradictory ideas by carrying them to a level of understanding at which it can be seen that they are not really contradictory.
 
Buddhist thought is opposed to reification, to turning processes into things and events into objects. (In this
sense it is very existential)
 
The fourfold path (four noble truths), represented by four Tibetan words:
 
dukkha: "dissatisfaction" (life is full of dissatisfaction)
samudaya: "cause, or orgin" (the dissatisfaction has a cause)
nirodha: "extinction" (the source of irritation can be ended)
marga: "path"" there is a way to stop our unhappiness
 
The correct perception of the nature of one's own experience is held to dissolve the pattern of craving and
dissatisfaction.
 
We each have within us many "I's" -- (In our time, called "Little I"s by the Russian mystic George Gurdjieff and as "subpersonalities" by Italian psychologist Roberto Assagioli, with his school of "psychosynthesis.)
 
Samsara -- literally means "going around in circles." Suffering, difficulty, hurrying much and getting little
done, etc.
 

Repression -- Western psychology talks about ways to rediscover repressed feelings --of sex, aggression, grief, etc. Buddhism suggests that our natural feelings of love and compassion are repressed as well.

 
Tharpa -- "liberation" most common Tibetan term equivalent to "enlightenment." Freedom from binding mental constructions, and that includes binding mental constructions about enlightenment.
 
Tantra. Means "thread". Refers to the interconnectedness of all things in the cosmos. -- reaction against asceticism, reflecting integration of male and female energies. Static energy corresponds to inward properties like wisdom and realization; dynamic side relates to outgoing ideas like compassion and strength. (Among Hindu tantrics, static principle is equated with male and dynamic with female; among Buddhist tantrics it's the other way around.)

Tantra includes deliberate risk-taking. Watching the mind in outrageous situations. We all sometimes do this -- stretch beyond what is comfortable for us -- as long as it does not hurt anyone. Not considered a great path in America because there is so much indulgence here.

 
Incarnation -- this precious human birth -- so rare among living beings.
 
Chakras -- centers in body going up spine. In order, First anus) is security, second (genitals) is sexuality, third (stomach or navel) is power, fourth (heart) is love, fifth (throat) is communication, sixth (third eye) is intuitive perception; seventh (crown) is cosmic consciousness.

The adept learns to transform everyday reality through a deliberate act off consciousness: every being is seen as a mysterious deity; every voice as the teaching of a guru; every sound, a mantra; every moment, an opportunity for profound learning.

 
Mahayana tradition says that full elightenment is not to be obtained by the individual until everyone is liberated, and it follows that one person cannot be fully healthy until everyone is.
 
Stop focusing on how you ought to be and focus on how you are.To get out of concern with image. Cleansing the doors of perception -- fresh experience -- this next breath, the next heartbeat. The world is seen as wonderfully beautiful.
 
We as humans are neurotic, kind of a mess, sort of like a dirty broom. But you can sweep the floor with a dirty broom and make it clean.
 
In 1973 the Dalai Lama went to Europe and met with the Pope and other religious leaders. "Sometimes they tried to draw him into conversations about God; he pleaded ignorance of the subject. "God is your business;" he told one questioner. "Karma is my business."
 
Wisdom = compassion with intelligence. Need skillful means. Neither intelligence nor compassion alone is enough. The latter can lead to "idiot compassion" -- bungling charity which makes people dependent.
 

Mindfulness --

 
1. Of your body
2. Of life. Living, walking, being, what's going on with you. .
3. Of effort/awareness.

Sorry, folks --this is as far as I got with the summary. For the rest of it, including exciting stories about "hungry ghosts" and other realms of our tormented psychological underworlds, you'll have to read Anderson himself, or other books on Tibetan Buddhism. There are a lot of them, and if the one you pick up doesn't seem readable or make good sense to you, put it down and look for another.