Non-Fiction Books:

The Authority of Experience

Readings on Buddhism and Psychology


Paperback / softback

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The Authority of Experience by John Pickering
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Over the past few decades, Buddhism has deepened its presence in the West. Therapists, scholars and scientists have now had extended contact with authentic teachings. As a result, Buddhist teachings and practices are becoming integrated with those of Western psychology in a more productive way. At the same time, developments within and around science have opened up the Western worldview. The decline of mechanism and positivism offers new opportunities to bring together Western and Buddhist views of the mind and its relationship to its surroundings. The purpose of this collection of readings is to present some contemporary views on this progressive integration. The Cartesian framework that has hampered Western psychology's inquiry into selfhood, is under deconstructive review. What is emerging, as Illya Prigogine has put it, is: "...not the end of science, but rather the end of alienation and a 'kind of limited rationality'; it is also the beginning of a new science which recovers meaning and integrates creativity." These changes open the way to a new and more specific interaction with Buddhism. Consciousness has returned to centre stage as a legitimate topic for scientific research. Dynamic systems theory offers a fresh perspective on the evolution of mind and of selfhood as a process. As a consequence, a new perspective on selflessness is possible, along with a re-examination of Buddhist teachings in terms of contemporary social psychology. Many difficult questions remain, for example, the balance between authenticity and accessibility. Buddhist traditions can sometimes appear inaccessible and too firmly fixed to a cultural framework. Some people, perhaps woman especially, can feel alienated or undervalued. However, responding to this by an attempt to synthesise Buddhism with the values of contemporary culture can sometimes raise doubts about authenticity and dilution. Questions and issues like these form the focus of this collection of readings which come from psychologists, scholars and others who in their work and in their lives seek to bring Buddhism into a realistic and informed relationship with contemporary Western thought.
Release date Australia
October 22nd, 1997
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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