Buddhism and Psychoanalysis

While Buddhism aims at freeing ourselves form the stagnation of thoughts like a bird taking off from the fumes of the city toward the pure mountain air, psychoanalysis, or so it seems, brings about an exacerbation of thoughts and dreams - thoughts that are completely centered on ourselves, in fact.

Patients try to reorganize their small world, and to control it as best they can. But they stay bogged down in it.

To put it in a nutshell, the problem with psychoanalysis is that it doesn't identify the basic causes of ignorance and inner enslavement.

Conflict with one's father or mother, and other traumatic experiences, aren't primary causes, they're circumstantial ones. The primary cause is attachment to the ego, which gives rise to attraction and repulsion, infatuation with and the desire to protect oneself.

Where Buddhism's approach and that of psychoanalysis diverge is the means used to attain liberation. Psychoanalysis is correct, and works within the framework of its own system, but that system is limited by the very goals it sets itself.

Take the problem of libido, for example. If you try to repress all the energy of desire, it's bound to come out via some roundabout route and be expressed in an abnormal way. So psychoanalysis tries to redirect it toward its proper object and give it back its normal expression.

But according to Buddhist contemplative science, you neither try to repress desire nor give it free reign in its ordinary state - you try to be completely liberated from it.

[Matthieu Ricard]
The Monk and the Philosopher, p.299-300

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