Summary: Before Mark Epstein became a medical student at Harvard and began training as a psychiatrist, he immersed himself in Buddhism through experiences with such influential Buddhist teachers as Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield. The positive outlook of Buddhism and the meditative principle of living in the moment came to influence his study and practice of psychotherapy profoundly. Going on Being is Epstein's memoir of his early years as a student of Buddhism and of how Buddh
ism influenced his approach to therapy, as well as a practical guide to how a Buddhist understanding of psychological problems makes change for the better possible. He presents his readers with an intimate chronicle of the evolution of spirit and psyche, and a highly inviting guide for anyone seeking a new path and a new outlook on life.
Summary: Before Mark Epstein became a medical student at Harvard and began training as a psychiatrist, he immersed himself in Buddhism through experiences with such influential Buddhist teachers as Ram Dass, Joseph Goldstein, and Jack Kornfield. The positive outlook of Buddhism and the meditative principle of living in the moment came to influence his study and practice of psychotherapy profoundly. Going on Being is Epstein's memoir of his early years as a student of Buddhism and of how Buddhism influenced his approach to therapy, as well as a practical guide to how a Buddhist understanding of psychological problems makes change for the better possible. He presents his readers with an intimate chronicle of the evolution of spirit and psyche, and a highly inviting guide for anyone seeking a new path and a new outlook on life. ...show less
Edition/Copyright:REV 02 Cover: Hardback Publisher:Broadway Books Published: 02/12/2002 International: No
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Chapter One There is a story that has kept popping up in my work over the years that embodies much of what I have learned about how people change. It is a story that has served a number of different functions as I have wrestled with the sometimes competing worldviews of Buddhism and psychotherapy, but it ultimately points the way toward their integration. It is one of the tales of Nasruddin, a Sufi amalgam of wise man and fool, with whom I have sometimes identified and by whom I have at other times been puzzled. He has the peculiar gift of both acting out our basic confusion and at the same time opening us up to our deeper wisdom. I first heard this story many years ago from one of my first meditation teachers, Joseph Goldstein, who used it as an example of how people search for happiness in inherently fleeting, and therefore unsatisfactory, pleasant feelings. The story is about how some people came upon Nasruddin one night crawling around on his hands and knees under a lamppost. ''What are you looking for?'' they asked him. ''I've lost the key to my house,'' he replied. They all got down to help him look, but after a fruitless time of searching, someone thought to ask him where he had lost the key in the first place. ''In the house,'' Nasruddin answered. ''Then why are you looking under the lamppost?'' he is asked. ''Because there is more light here,'' Nasruddin replied. I suppose I must identify with Nasruddin to have quoted this story so often. Searching for my keys is something I can understand. It puts me in touch with a sense of estrangement, or yearning, that I had quite a bit of in my life, a feeling that I used to equate with an old reggae song by Jimmy Cliff called ''Sitting in Limbo.'' In my first book I used the parable as a way of talking about people's attachment to psychotherapy and their fears of spirituality. Therapists are used to looking in certain places for the key to people's unhappiness, I maintained. They are like Nasruddin looking under the lamppost, when they might profit more from looking inside their own homes. In my next book, I returned to this story obliquely when I described locking myself out of my running car while trying to leave a meditation retreat that I had just finished. I knew I had locked my keys in the car (it was idling away right in front of me, for goodness sake!) but I still felt compelled to look on the ground for them just in case I might somehow be miraculously saved. Being locked out of my car,with it running on without me, seemed like an apt metaphor for something akin to the title of my first book,Thoughts Without a Thinker.Something like a car without a driver, or, in this case, a driver without his car. Humbled by my own ineptitude, I felt closer to Nasruddin in my second pass through his story. Rather than seeing him simply in his foolish mode, as a stand-in for psychotherapists looking in the wrong place for the key, I now felt sympathy for Nasruddin, allied with him searching in vain for what he knew was not there. But it was not until some time later, when I came upon the same story in someone else's work, that I could appreciate it in yet another way. In a marvelous book entitled Ambivalent Zen, Lawrence Shainberg told how this same parable captivated his imagination for ten years. He, too, thought that he understood it. The moral, he concluded, is to look where the light is since darkness is the only threat. But he determined one day to ask his Japanese Zen master (who is a wonderfully engaging character as described by Shainberg) for his interpretation. ''You know the story about Nasruddin and the key?'' Shainberg asked his master. ''Nasruddin?'' the roshi replied. ''Who is Nas
''A thoughtful and compassionate view of what therapy can accomplish when it recognizes the indivisibility of the psyche and spirit.'' New Age ''Lucid and thoughtful.''Elle ''Like the best Buddhist masters, Epstein tells wonderful stories, full of wisdom and flashes of inspiration. From the stories emerges a way of being and seeing.'' Booklist
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