Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Carl & Zen

I came upon this interview the other day, and thought ya'll might be interested. It's an interview with Jungian analyst, James Hollis. I saw a brief TV interview with Hollis and was intrigued, and when I Googled him I found this article from Enlightenment Magazine (which I never read). In any case, he does talk about zen, and ego-consciousness. Interesting!



At February 28, 2006, Blogger Jinzang said...

I'e never studied psychology, but I get the idea that in Western psychology the ego is seen as healthy and necessary, the principle of individuation. It just needs to be in balance.

In Buddhism the ego is a mirage. It's something we think exists but actually does not. Sometimes we identify the ego with the mind and sometimes not, as when we say, "I could not control my mind."

The difference between the two views, I think, comes down to the practice of meditation. If you pursue it long enough, what ego is become clear. Up to then introspection can't be trusted. It's confuesd with our wishes and prejudices.

At March 01, 2006, Blogger rot-13 said...

For more on Jung and Zen, check out the book An Introduction to Zen Buddhism, by D. T. Suzuki. The forward was written by Jung himself. Interesting to get his take on what the whole enlightenment thing is, or might be, sort of, maybe.

Shunryu Suzuki played dumb about satori -- "don't know, don't care, not important." How very Soto of him. D. T. Suzuki, otoh, was Rinzai and as far as he was concerned, "Satori is the raison d'etre of Zen, and without it there is no Zen." I recommend anything by D. T., just because it offers a bit of a counterweight to the strongly Soto bent of North American Zen. He was eloquent, erudite, and certainly not objective: he had a viewpoint and he pushed for it.

BTW to Karen and any others who have some knowledge of the Christian tradition: you might want to find a copy of Suzuki's Mysticism, Christian and Buddhist. It compares Meister Eckhart's writing with its analogues in Buddhist literature. There are places where Suzuki either misunderstands or misrepresents Christianity, in some pretty fundamental ways. But by and large, his grasp of it is surprisingly good. I can't give further details -- haven't read the book in fifteen years or so.

But anyway, this essay by Jung: he appears to admire the whole Zen/satori thing, to have a pretty good grasp of what it represents, and to think that there's no way anyone in the West would pursue it. His twin reasons are, first, that it's irrational (though there's plenty of that in his own theories), and second, that it requires very non-Western submission to a spiritual master. He was writing before cults became such an issue in the West, and underestimated people's willingness to do whatever a guru tells them.

I hope I'm not misrepresenting him: it's been a while since I've read his essay. Anyway, Jung fans will want to take a look. As for the book itself, it's fairly basic but still worthwhile, especially for those who only know the Soto side of things.

If anyone's really curious, I'll reread Jung's essay and post a brief synopsis of it here.

At March 01, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

Jung was basically quite keen on getting rid of the Ego in all but name. He thought it constrained people to act in ways narrower than their true potential.

If you look at his process of Individuation you will see very strong similarities to some paths of enlightenment.

A lot of Jungian work is very similar to many contemplation practices

At March 01, 2006, Blogger PA said...

That was a really interesting article on Jung. I don't know enough to comment, but just thought I'd say thanks for posting that.

At March 01, 2006, Blogger me said...

I have just started reading a new book recommended by Johndoe: Zen and the Brain by James Austen, a neuroscientist. He writes in the introduction the following relevant tidbit:

We expect serious scientists rigorously to challenge their biases and to reject any belief system that does not fit their data. In fact, Zen students face a not dissimilar task. They too, must be keen enough to diagnose, and strong enough to pull out by the roots, the dysfunctional aspects of their own egocentric self.

This suggests a slant on Zen that sounds rather like it's a self-help program / psychotherapeutic enterprise. It also speaks to my earlier comment that Zen students attempt to 'free themselves from their programming' ie their egos. Clearly complete freedom is both impossible (as pointed out by others here) and undesireable - but minimizing the impact of the ego, especially any 'dysfunctional' aspects of it, does seem possible.

At March 01, 2006, Blogger rot-13 said...

me said,

"This suggests a slant on Zen that sounds rather like it's a self-help program...."

Isn't it? Seriously.

After you've read the book, I hope you'll post a synopsis, review, book report (whatever) here. I hope others will do the same with books they're reading. Too many books, too little time, but it'll help if people give their thoughts on what's out there.

I plan to do this, if nobody minds; only, first I have to finish one of the half-dozen books I'm in the middle of.

The days are too short.

At March 01, 2006, Blogger MikeDoe said...

excellent idea. New thread for "Book Reviews"?

Zen is a self-help program that says "The best way to help the Self is to throw it away".

At March 01, 2006, Blogger endofthedream said...

"To study the buddha way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of realization remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly."

--from Dogen, "Genjo Koan"

At March 01, 2006, Blogger me said...

Well, it's a 900 page book... might take a while!


Post a Comment

<< Home