Buddhist Practice on Western Ground

By Jeffrey Miller, The Korea Times Feature Writer, May 14, 2005

Author: Harvey B. Aronson, Ph.D.
Shambhala, 2004; 253 pages

Seoul, South Korea -- There was a time when Dharma meditative practices for most Westerners who had tapped into Eastern Philosophy were laced with the smell of burning incense, sitar music, yoga and other pop baggage and flotsam.

However, as more and more Westerners over the years have embraced Buddhism for spiritual development, many practitioners of Buddhism also soon discovered its therapeutic value. As such, while meditation has always allowed one to get in touch with the fundamental basic nature of one's inner self, some of these practitioners also embraced its therapeutic value in helping them overcome personal problems.

Inasmuch as Buddhism and meditation might offer one tools for ``profound spiritual development,'' according to Dr. Harvey B. Aronson, Buddhism may not always address deeper psychological concerns of most Westerners. However, in his illuminating study of Buddhism from a Western perspective, ``Buddhist Practice on Western Ground: Reconciling Eastern Ideals and Western Psychology,'' Aronson offers a comprehensive and sympathetic examination of the differences between Eastern and Western cultural and spiritual values as well as how meditation can be a useful tool for therapy.

As a long-time Buddhist practitioner and professor, Aronson possesses a deep personal knowledge of how the practice is used, and sometimes misused, by Westerners. Aronson captures this by providing a very interesting and illuminating cross-cultural perspective, by picking up both the strengths and weaknesses of Buddhism as well as how it has been both transplanted and translated from Asia to the West. Realizing the value of both Buddhist philosophy and meditation, Aronson offers readers a unique and invaluable perspective on the way Buddhist teachings are recruited to one's individual neuroses or how these teachings can be integrated into one's daily life.

He presents a constructive and practical assessment of common conflicts experienced by Westerners who might have looked to Eastern spiritual traditions for guidance and support, only to find themselves more confused or even disappointed. He illustrates the fundamental vision of Buddhism as well as a cross-cultural and psychological reflection that is respective of both cultures. At the same time, he raises important questions and provides helpful insights about some of the pitfalls that can occur when Eastern and Western cultures come together.

He limits his focus to four central themes in Buddhist teachings _ self, anger, love, and attachment _ which have different interpretations and psychological correlates in Western thought. He closely examines the cultural differences inherent in each of these central Buddhist teachings and shows among other things how individuals can tap into the spiritual development if they can reconcile the cultural differences. For example, he discusses Western culture's emphasis on individuality versus the Asian emphasis on interdependence and fulfillment of duties, and the Buddhist teachings on no-self or egolessness. His thorough and insightful investigation of these differences provides readers with a better understanding of how Dharma practices can be successfully integrated into our lives.

In this seminal analysis of Buddhism in Western thought, Aronson has a lot of wisdom to share that will help Western Dharma practitioners establish a healthy and clear foundation for achieving spiritual growth. To be sure, his insightful comments and personal anecdotes about the spiritual journey will be helpful to everyone, regardless of their tradition and religion who seek not only a more profound spiritual development, but also to help them overcome their own problems.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv