The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra

The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra

The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra

This book is unique in the way in which it explains the rich iconography of Tibetan Buddhism in relation to spiritual psychology and the exploration of our inner world. It is a door into the rich and profound symbolism of Tibetan sacred art. The author uses concepts from Western psychotherapy to bridge an understanding of the meaning and functions of these symbols.

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  1. Neal J. Pollock said,

    Wrote on September 4, 2012 @ 12:50 am

    19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    Relating Eastern-Western Psychology & Tantra–4.5 stars, January 31, 2007
    By 
    Neal J. Pollock (VA USA) –
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    This review is from: The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra (Paperback)

    The author succinctly relates Tantra & psychology, mostly Jungian, with relevant parallels to alchemy. A former electronics engineer & a practicing psychotherapist, he brings a Western scientific & practical mental-emotional perspective to his practices as meditation teacher & tangka painter, showing the psychological parallels to Tibetan deities, dakinis, mandalas & increasing the reader’s understanding & insight while appreciating the value of devotion, visualization, attunement to nature, & ritual. Taking a balanced view of both worlds enables a greater appreciation for each. He adds personal experiences with patients & meditators to ground his presentation. His analysis of ego death is enlightening–he places it in the context of psychological change theory involving an unfreezing of assumptions/concepts/viewpoints, followed by a transformation period; & culminating in a new paradigm. As he points out, this is similar to the famous Zen saying of a mountain being a mountain until a realization experience when it is no longer a mountain, but followed by a period of enlightenment when it once again is a mountain. Similarly, the ego “dies” is transformed, & finally is reborn anew. This is the best description I have read of this process.

    He also provides a number of useful exercises/meditations. He promotes mutual cross-fertilization between Western psychology & Tantric Buddhism, noting that Buddhism has previously adapted to new countries/cultures & can adapt to the West as well. But this requires filtering out some Tibetan cultural peculiarities. He also delineates important differences between psychotherapists & Buddhist teachers & dangers for certain types of students, noting that: pp. 107-8: “In Buddhist psychology, there is no developmental model of the processes that unfold in childhood, as it assumes that the development of the ego has already been established. For this reason many Eastern teachers do not easily understand the nature of the wounding that often happens to Westerners as we grow up. They are surprised by how much damage has occurred to our sense of identity.” Furthermore, p. 191: “The forces of the Shadow become demonic because they are not given appropriate recognition, conscious understanding, or respect” & that properly employed psychotherapy & Buddhist practices can turn demonic into daimonic such that the deities/archetypes of the unconscious transform from obstacles into stepping stones.

    Most of the book is non-sectarian, but it seems to me to have a slight Gelugpa orientation, esp. regarding Mahamudra (MM) placed before Tantric generation stage practice & described as a basic meditation (see the Dalai Lama’s book on Mahamudra)–not, IMHO, the Kagyu view of MM, & it relates poorly to Nyingma Dzogchen. Further, he uses “samadhi” as his Sanskrit translation of “Shine” vs. the usual “Shamatha”, has IMHO misleading diagrams, e.g. Self is incomplete, provides no diagram listing, & seems at times a bit naïve. Still, this is a very fine book, well worth your time esp. for relating East & West.

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  2. Midwest Book Review said,

    Wrote on September 4, 2012 @ 1:22 am

    11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    An outstanding melding of two often different philosophies., February 2, 2007
    By 
    Midwest Book Review (Oregon, WI USA) –

    This review is from: The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra (Paperback)

    Rob Preece’s THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BUDDHIST TANTRA clarifies tantric practice, showing how an understanding of the forces of fear and aggression may be channeled into creative expression and love. This blend of psychology and Buddhist principles allows readers to overcome common boundaries between Eastern philosophy and Western results-driven psychology, offering chapters based on Buddhist tantric strategies to keep results centered on life experience as well as spiritual purpose. The result is an outstanding melding of two often different philosophies.

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  3. David Mehler said,

    Wrote on September 4, 2012 @ 2:00 am

    4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Replace yourself, June 14, 2009
    By 
    David Mehler
    (REAL NAME)
      

    This review is from: The Psychology of Buddhist Tantra (Paperback)

    I thought this was a great book, worthy of several readings. I just loaned my copy to some friends (one of which is dying), and will read it again when it’s returned. The reason I used ‘replace yourself’ as a title is, deity practice essentially replaces the troubled ego. With practice we can all break through to enlightenment – but we find enlightenment is only another beginning. I found this quote in the book attributed to Gen Jampa Wangdu: “Realizing emptiness is not difficult; the difficulty is maintaining this awareness.” If you have been looking for a style of meditation to follow this might be it. His drawings are also excellent.

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