The man who brought Buddhism to Tibet, Padmasamblava, said, or so I am told,
"When the iron bird flies in the sky, my teaching will come to the West" and so
it has. Particularily after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. We have access to
just about every form of Buddhism in the West now.
This has influenced many of our best philosophers. Alan Watts a much respected though now
dead philosopher, began his working life as an Anglican Priest but became very
interested in Zen Buddhism. He is an excellent introduction for a Westerner
interested in Buddhism. He writes with depth and clarity, but also in a way
which is easy to understand.
I believe Carl Jung had some interest in
Buddhism too. Many who have followed on from Jung see a correlation between the
work of Jung and Buddhism and I think that Carl Rogers
quite by accident, due to his enormous innate compassion, realised something
very similar to the Buddha.
The Buddha believed we lived in a dream and had forgotten who we were. He
believed that because of our experiences, karma, we had developed a false view
of who we were, our concept of self or ego. In many Buddhist traditions,
individuals who have attained a good state of being will meet with followers and
if the person is open the Guru will be able to transmit some of their own state
of being to them.
Now, I see a similarity to this and the way
Rogerian counsellors work with their clients. It may be in a different way
and Rogerian counsellors do not pretend or want to be Guru's, but I think there
is still a profound similarity.
Carl Rogers believed that because of things
that had happened to us we had developed a "false self-concept" but that we all
have resources in our inner feeling self which we can trust and with which we
can grow. He also discovered that when the counsellor met the client from a
particular position, the core conditions of warmth, genuineness and empathy, the
client was able to get in touch with their own inner resources and begin
I believe this is very similar to the 'meeting' which goes on between a
'guru' and 'disciple' in Buddhism. We all have within us our inner feeling self,
but too often because of lack of respect for this in the world as it is now, we
repress it. Coming in contact with a person well in touch with that, touches
the same place within us. That is of course not to suggest that a person
becomes immediately enlightened, but it does mean that one is helped towards
one's own genuineness. How one will be when this works well, will be simply how
one is genuinely at the present moment. For many people that may mean tears, as
the hurt at being denied reaches the surface. For others it may be anger.
These feelings, now reached have the possibility of being worked through in
order that the individual may find what resides in all of us, underneath our
pains and traumas - love (compassion), empathy, intuition and aliveness.
I hope that if you have already read the sections on Carl Rogers and Jung,
that you will see that despite the difference in time and cultures, there is a
great deal of similarity between them.
been told Buddhism is the one religion a war has never been fought over.
do not go into war saying the "Buddha" is on your side and you will be off to
Nirvana if you should die! Such an idea would be preposterous in a religion
where the Bodhisattva (one working towards enlightenment or who has already
reached it) makes a vow not to leave this world until all sentient beings have
also achieved enlightenment. Not all schools of Buddhism take this vow, but
compassion is deeply entrenched within Buddhism. Most Buddhists vow to end the
suffering of all beings not just themselves.
Buddhist position on Self therefore would be that we have all created an ego
because of our experiences, but that that ego is not who we really are. Buddhism
would ask you not to try to have a rigid fixed self, but to be true to your
inner feeling self. Buddhism is a very ethical religion. Remember it is based on
a premise to help all people, not just oneself. It recognises the right to feel
and indeed the need to be honest about feelings and offers ways to change these
feelings if they are destructive into a creative way of using them. It's major
way of working is through Meditation,
which is used to quiet the mind, become attentive and get in touch with your
inner feeling self. There are many different schools of Buddhism, so if you feel
interested in taking this further there is a great choice.
*Footnote (Sadly, it would appear this
is no longer the case. I understand that Buddhism has been used as an excuse for
attrocities in Sri Lanka. This is itself violence against Buddhism. It is true
to say, that there is nothing in Buddhist scriptures which condones, excuses or allows