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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- Incarnation -- this precious human birth -- so rare among
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.