Just like the term “fist” is a convenient label to designate a particular (and transient) arrangement of the fingers, the term “self” or “I” is nothing but a label for an impermanent arrangement of the skandhas. 141-207). The eastern perspective sees the other person as part of yourself as well as the things you may create, a drama in which everyone is interconnected with their specific roles (Wolter 2012) The Western and … As long as the wave was unaware of the nature of the ocean, believing itself to be separate and independent of it, it might develop attachments and aversions, fears, jealousies, and worries about its size, its purpose, its importance, its possessions, or its destination. Loy, D. (1993). But it is not only the self that is empty, and cannot exist by itself; the skandhas themselves are also empty. Clearly any such concerns would vanish instantly upon realizing the water-nature of the ocean, and its oneness with it. Now stretch your imagination, and assume for a moment that the collection of elements forming the wave had resulted in the phenomenon of consciousness. Heart sutra: Ancient Buddhist wisdom in the light of quantum reality. Eastern Self/Western Self By Linda Heuman May 08, 2013. Western philosophy deals with Individualism while Eastern Philosophy is related to Collectivism. Now stretch your imagination, and assume for a moment that the collection of elements forming the wave had resulted in the phenomenon of consciousness. Pattern and growth in personality. It makes me wonder if there is not a Divine reason for all the misery, hate and fear in life that I have yet to discover. What do you see? These labels tend to perpetuate the illusion that reified concepts are actually real, existing objects, for their reality seems to be attested to by the very fact that labels exists for each of them. Fromm, E. (1964). Consider a wave in the ocean. They also cannot exist by themselves. These “seeds” are “watered” by con scious activities, so that, for example, engaging in kind or compassionate thoughts makes the seeds of compassion ripen and grow (i.e., become more powerful), so that it will be easier to think compassionately next time. The most important characteristic of the Eastern world view - one could almost say the essence of it - is the awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things and events, the experience of all phenomena in the world as manifestations of a basic oneness. Such part, if found, would have represented the essence or the “soul” of the car, and yet it was nowhere to be found. The wave has no separate “self,” no reality apart from the water. One of the most important ones was Vasubandhu, an oustanding Buddhist scholar living in the 4th century. Before we start inventing a new flavor of Buddhism to suit Western palettes, it is important to look closely at the implicit assumptions we are bringing to this project. With Jung the self, transcending the ego, became ultimately identical with the whole psyche. Hahn, N. (1974). The delusion of separateness results in cravings, grasping, clinging, greed, selfishness, hatred, fear, feelings of alienation, loneliness, helplessness, and anxiety, which afflict those “healthy” as well as “unhealthy.”. My parents certainly never knew what they were or they might have been better parents and I might have lived a lot better life than I did. In J. Strachey (Ed. University of Nebraska at Kearney The five skandhas, like everything else, are dependently arisen, and cannot exist by themselves. What is needed is appropriate action in the relative world, while maintaining awareness of the big picture. The self is the most important intervening factor to come between phenomenal objects (other people, roles, and external things) and an individual's own behavior and action. Next comes manas (“mind”), where complex thinking and awareness takes place based on the information processed at the previous level. To hurt another becomes to hurt oneself; to help another is to help oneself. Part of what is developing in children as they grow is the fundamental cognitive part of the self, known as the self-concept. But the concept of anatta does not negate the person, nor does it diminish it. People constantly act, behave, and live out their lives as if reifications were actually real, separate entities, rather than the delusory constructions of the mind. The term ‘self’ refers to an individual human being, along with their body, mind, and in some cases, the concept of a ‘soul’. 2 With notable exceptions (e.g. Rahula, W. (1974). & Trans. Being aware of the phenomenon of awareness results in the mistaken notion of an inner perceiver who is having the awareness and who is separate from it. Think of a room illuminated by seven lightbulbs. 450-474). Essentially the soul, mind, or self was viewed as an inner substance or entity, different from the body, in charge of volitional processes, essentially a “little man inside of the head,” a homunculus within the individual, ultimately responsible for the person’s thoughts and actions. What happened to the “real” thing called “fist” that was there a moment ago? By extension, it is making a thing out of a form, a shape, a configuration, a Gestalt, a perception, or an image. “Conceptual self” (Neisser, 1997), “Relational Self” (Jordan, 1991), “Public and private selves” (Morin, 1998) have just been a few amongst the many terms offered in the explanation of the ways people perceive themselves and their world. For discussions you are welcome to join the. Hahn, N. (1988). Although some Eastern conceptions of the self, most notably those derived from Hinduism, which center on the Vedic notion of the atman or soul, are similar to Western ideas of the self, Buddhist psychology provides a radically different interpretation. Gordon Allport (1961) made an interesting distinction between the self-as-object and the self-as-knower, asserting that the former could be approached with the descriptive tools of psychology while the latter was to remain a subject for philosophical speculation, outside of the realm of science. What happened to the “real” thing called “fist” that was there a moment ago? Peace is every step: The path of mindfulness in everyday life. Because of the delusory nature of any labeling process, with its consequent reifications, any attempt to offer a name for the unnamable Reality must always fall short, although sages have offered terms such as Thusness, Tathagatagarba, Buddha Nature, Dharmakaya, Suchness, the Big Self, the Absolute, or the Tao. Ancient Eastern Philosophy On the Ancient Wisdom of Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism & Confucianism. New York: Knopf. E-mail: mosigy@unk.edu, I'm a little surprised there no comments, this is very, very good material; beautifully and clearly explained. Perhaps it was Carl Gustav Jung (Jacobi, 1942) who provided the most significant expansion of the homuncular thesis in psychology. It is often suggested that contrasting Eastern vs. Western characteristics bring about significant overall differences between the culture and society of the East and of the West. Reification is the process by which the mind makes a thing (res), or a material object, out of a concept or an abstraction. An outline of psycho-analysis. In this sutra, the universe is likened to an infinite net, stretching out in all directions, in which at every intersection of two strands is found a precious jewel. The fifth skandha includes eight consciousnesses, one of which results in the experience of the ego or self as homunculus, which Buddhist psychology rejects as delusion. Both western and eastern philosophy has lots of simliarities too. This page was last edited on 20 March 2014, at 16:20. Rogers (1951) defined the self as “an organized, fluid, but consistent conceptual pattern of perceptions of characteristics and relationships of the ‘I’ or ‘me,’ together with values attached to these concepts.” However, despite emphasizing a pattern-like notion of the self, his allusions to the “self-structure,” as well as the suggestion that the self can actually revise or modify the structure of the self, retain a homuncular quality, albeit not as sharply drawn as that of his predecessors. 450-474). I Am as described here is equivalent to kensho. Where did it go? Close your hand into a fist and look at it. This means that nothing is ever truly independent or separate from everything else. To some extent Western formulations of the self evidence a homunculus-like quality lacking in some Eastern conceptions, especially those derived from the Vijnanavada and Zen Buddhist traditions. They also cannot exist by themselves. Now open your fingers. Client-centered therapy: Its current practice, implications and theory. Since it is the self-as-knower that labels and classifies the characteristics of the self-as-object, it stands for a homunculus whose own inner self cannot be reached without infinite regression into absurdity. process. What do you see? The self-realization of Jung became the model for the concept of self-actualization in the humanistic psychologies of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, and it was the latter who added a phenomenological dimension to the self. It has no reality separate from the water, and although its form seems to last as it continues to move on the surface of the ocean, it is composed each moment of different water particles. Each of these jewels reflects the whole net, so that the entire universe is contained in each part of it (Loy, 1993). The self-realization of Jung became the model for the concept of self-actualization in the humanistic psychologies of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, and it was the latter who added a phenomenological dimension to the self. (Original work published 1940). & Trans. . . The psychology of Buddhism, on the other hand, rejects the notion of an inner self and proposes a radically different view, where thoughts exist without a thinker, deeds without a doer, and feelings without a feeler. The most important characteristic of the Eastern world view - one could almost say the essence of it - is the awareness of the unity and mutual interrelation of all things and events, the experience of all phenomena in the world as manifestations of a basic oneness. What would remain of it, if one removed one’s perception of it, one’s feelings about it, one’s impulses to act on it or with it, and one’s conscious awareness of it? The different conceptions of the self in Western and Eastern psychology have clear implications for psychotherapy and everyday life. Freud, S. (1964). AND EASTERNTHOUGHT LESSON OBJECTIVES. These “seeds,” upon development, produce all sorts of mental phenomena. The illumination is one ongoing phenomenon, integrating the contributions of the individual bulbs. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. Since we think and act in accordance with these illusions, we invariably suffer (i.e., experience disappointment, frustration, and pain). Heart sutra: Ancient Buddhist wisdom in the light of quantum reality. Vasubandhu understood that every single object differentiated by the mind out of its global and holistic experience is created by this process, including the concept of the individual self, the “I” or “me.” Reifications are little more than delusions, and refer to momentary states remembered from the past experience of the person (whose concept of himself or herself as a separate individual is itself a reification). The interconnectedness, or “interbeing,” of everything in the universe, implied in the principle of dependent origination, finds an elegant expression in the metaphor of the jewel net of Indra, in the Buddha’s “Flower Ornament” sermon (Avatamsaka Sutra). Removing one of the tires of the car, one could ask oneself, is this the car? Avoiding the void: The lack of self in psychotherapy and Buddhism. Language has developed as a system of communication for myriads of reified concepts, and consequently consists primarily of reified labels. Allowing oneself to indulge in anger or hatred waters the corresponding seeds, so that it becomes easier to grow angry and to experience hate. This can be grasped best with another metaphor, often found in Buddhist literature. The practice and theory of individual psychology. There are cultural differences in self-consciousness: public self-consciousness may be higher in Eastern than in Western cultures. Wisdom and compassion: What the Buddha taught. I entered therapy at 49 but had tons of exposure to Eastern concepts and spirituality which never helped me at all until, work on my very damaged ego did the trick. All things (including human beings) are composites, in other words, they are composed of parts, and have no real existence other than as temporary (impermanent) collections of parts. People constantly act, behave, and live out their lives as if reifications were actually real, separate entities, rather than the delusory constructions of the mind. It is to “thing” an event or a phenomenon, to transform an ongoing, fluid process, into a frozen and static spatial or temporal cross-section of the same, endowing such construction with the qualities of reality and separateness. E-mail: mosigy@unk.edu, http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/en/index.php?title=Conceptions_of_the_Self_in_Western_and_Eastern_Psychology&oldid=147072. It could be argued that the self needs to be strengthened before it can be abandoned. While these aggregates are together, the functioning gestalt we call a person exists; if they are removed, the gestalt ceases to be. What this means is that they cannot have any existence except in terms of the interconnected net of causal conditions that made their existence possible. Zen Buddhism. The fuzzier Rogerian self does offer some points of commonality with the Eastern conception of the non-self, as will be clear from the discussion that follows. In this example, the electricity that activates them is the equivalent of the, Western psychotherapy, in its efforts to heal the neurotic individual, attempts to strengthen the ego, or to foster the development of a stronger “self,” and yet it is this very notion of self which Buddhist psychology sees as the root cause of human suffering. Implications for psychotherapy and everyday life are discussed. Skinner, B.F. (1971). This blog is about spiritual awakening, maps and stages, the blinding effects of our strong momentum/conditioning (karmic propensities), view, realization, experience, etc. Concepts of the Self: Western and Eastern Perspectives. Each skandha is in turn a transient pattern formed by the interaction of the other four. Both aim at effecting a positive change in the mode of functioning and the lifestyle of the individual. I cannot imagine how I could have gotten anywhere with Self Inquiry or the "no-me" pointers BEFORE repairing my extremely damaged ego/self thanks to very bad parenting. Is it real? What one person does or experiences … Allport, G. (1961).     The concept of the self in Western psychology derives primarily from the work of Freud, Jung, and Rogers. Consider, for example, an automobile. In this example, the electricity that activates them is the equivalent of the alayavijnana. Associate professor in the Department of Counseling and Human Development Services. According to Vasubandhu, all that can be experienced to exist is “mind only,” or the mental processes of knowing. Humans are intersubjective beings interacting with other people and environmental factors in a constant state of flux. Wisdom and compassion are dependently arisen, they “inter-are.” In the final analysis, wisdom is compassion, and compassion is wisdom (Mosig, 1989). Philosophy East and West, 43, 481-510. Now consider your self, your ego. New York: Pantheon. Clearly, human beings cannot be reduced to parts but must be understood within the context of the whole. Each of these jewels reflects the whole net, so that the entire universe is contained in each part of it (Loy, 1993). The east takes time and has patience. New York: Harper Collins. Explain the concept of self as found in Asian thoughts; and 3. While understanding universal interconnectedness and absolute reality, the emptiness or nothingness of Buddhism, the person needs at the same time to experience reality in the relative sense, where individual identities exist. no one born, and no one to die. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Does it have an essence or a “soul” when separated from its component parts? WESTERN CONCEPT OF THE SELF Ancient Grecian philosophers => humans => bearers of irreplaceable values In medieval times, Thomas Aquinas believed => body constitutes individuality. A comparison of culture and philosophy between Eastern and Western societies. True wisdom is automatically manifested as universal compassion, just as true compassion manifests itself as wisdom. The West and East Perspectives of the Self The western perspective does not discount the role of environment and society in the formation of the Self but the focus is always looking toward the self. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. There is experience, but there is no subject (no atman) having the experience. (1961). If you're new here, I recommend going through the 'Must Reads' articles (see sidebar). It is evident that there exists a pluralism with respect to the existence of the self, as well as that some Western authors have similar views to the Eastern concept of the self (e. g. Hume). ), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. Eastern Self/Western Self By Linda Heuman May 08, 2013. It has no reality separate from the water, and although its form seems to last as it continues to move on the surface of the ocean, it is composed each moment of different water particles. In short, to this false view can be traced all the evil in the world.” Cumberland, RI: Primary Point. The “seeds” of the alayavijnana, on the other hand, can be made stronger or weaker through selective attentional and reactive phenomena. Loy, D. (1992). These “seeds” are “watered” by con scious activities, so that, for example, engaging in kind or compassionate thoughts makes the seeds of compassion ripen and grow (i.e., become more powerful), so that it will be easier to think compassionately next time. It is important to realize what is meant by the “self” rejected by the Buddha as illusory. The heart of understanding. Stated differently, the paper cannot exist by itself; it lacks a separate self, soul, or essence. Where did it go? Vasubandhu understood that every single object differentiated by the mind out of its global and holistic experience is created by this process, including the concept of the individual self, the “I” or “me.” Reifications are little more than delusions, and refer to momentary states remembered from the past experience of the person (whose concept of himself or herself as a separate individual is itself a reification). They are essentially patterns, configurations, or Gestalten rather than objectively existing separate entities. Heraclitus), in early Western philosophy a static view of reality was taken, with substance as the carrier of properties and the basis for identity of the self. Jacobi, J. While these aggregates are together, the functioning gestalt we call a person exists; if they are removed, the gestalt ceases to be. Just like the term “fist” is a convenient label to designate a particular (and transient) arrangement of the fingers, the term “self” or “I” is nothing but a label for an impermanent arrangement of the skandhas. The psychotherapeutic applications of Eastern and Western psychology have been examined by a number of authors (e.g., Watts, 1961; Goleman, 1981; Loy, 1992). Removing one of the tires of the car, one could ask oneself, is this the car? Where does the wave end and the rest of the ocean start? Before we start inventing a new flavor of Buddhism to suit Western palettes, it is important to look closely at the implicit assumptions we are bringing to this project. Wisdom and compassion are dependently arisen, they “inter-are.” In the final analysis, wisdom is compassion, and compassion is wisdom (Mosig, 1989). The person becomes transformed from an isolated and powerless individual struggling against the rest of the world, into an interconnected integral part of the universe. 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