- Buddha Shakyamuni.
The great esotericist Manly Palmer Hall (pictured left) once wrote, ‘In Buddhism we have what is probably the oldest and most perfectly integrated system of what we now call psychology.’ I think Hall is right. Certainly, there were others before Buddha Shakyamuni whose teachings were psychological in nature, but I don’t know of any other person before the Buddha who had expounded such a clear, coherent, logical and empirically-based set of psychological principles and techniques.
Specifically, the 'system' treats what Buddhism often calls an 'illusory [or a 'false'] mind' (that is, a mind characterized and dominated by wandering, oppositional and discriminatory thoughts) with a view to bringing into manifestation a 'true [or 'pure'] mind' (being a mind which is not in opposition to itself).
Buddha Shakyamuni was very smart. He knew that it was impossible to directly cultivate 'happiness.' That is why he spoke in terms of the causes of 'unhappiness'. Do you want to be happy? Of course. We all do. Then correct the causes of your unhappiness. That is how Buddhist psychology works.
Although the Buddha was not a psychologist per se, he nevertheless 'discovered' and understood the unconscious mind (bhavanga-citta), the ego (atta), and ego fixation (atta-vādupādāna) ... some 2,500 years before Sigmund Freud!
Mushin - Empty Mind
That is amazing! Yes, if nothing else, Buddhism is an education. In that regard, the English word ‘education’ is derived from the Latin roots educo and educare. Educare means ‘to rear or to bring up,’ and can be traced to the Latin root words e and ducere. Together, e-ducere means to ‘pull out,’ to ‘draw out,’ and to 'lead forth’ ... all aptly applicable to Buddhism, for the teachings of Buddhism, if diligently practised, will indeed 'draw out' one's innate potential to become a buddha.
Buddhism is also a praxis ... and a practice. It consists of various practices and activities by means of which we can better come to understand ourselves, others and the world. However, those practices and activities have to be enacted, practiced and realized in our minds and bodies. We learn in Buddhism that our mind is part of the ‘problem,’ but it can still be used to faithfully report on the flow of life from one moment to the next. That is why mindfulness is so important. We are not separate from life. We can never be less than life. We are persons among persons, each part of the endless procession of life. We are not those waxing and waning I’s and me’s, those various ‘selves’ which we mistakenly take for the person each of us really is.
It has been said that, for the first time, Buddha Shakyamuni taught that not only was self-deliverance possible, it could be attained independently of an external agency. He said, ‘I have delivered you towards deliverance. The Dhamma, the Truth is to be self realized.’ Further, he encouraged his followers to ‘come and see,’ that is, to investigate for themselves whether or not his teachings worked.
No wonder Krishnamurti - who was not a Buddhist - could nevertheless say, 'The Buddha comes closer to the basic truths and facts of life than any other.'
Now, it really doesn’t matter whether or not you're a Buddhist. The only thing that really matters is that you attain freedom from the bondage of self. That is where mindfulness is very useful, for it involves observing and releasing all those habits of mind that would otherwise preserve and maintain the illusion of a separate self.
MINDFULNESS, PSYCHOLOGICAL MUTATION AND HEALING
TAKING REFUGE IN MINDFULNESS