Applied Buddhist Psychology FAQ

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Who are these workshops for?
The Applied Buddhist Psychology workshops are for those who are looking for a new perspective in understanding that arises from looking at the world from a different point of view. These workshops seek to shed new light on western conceptualizations of the human mind and on the nature of reality.

I’m not Buddhist and I’m happy with my spiritual beliefs. Is there something I can get out of these workshops?
As a rule, Buddhist thought does not seek to supersede other forms of spiritual understanding. Rather, it seeks to engage in a discourse that brings greater understanding. In any case, the Buddhist Psychology Studies workshops are less about the practice of Buddhism and more about the application of Buddhist understandings regarding the nature of reality to western forms of knowledge.

What does the term “Buddhist Psychology” usually refer to, and how is this course area related to that?
Because Buddhism is, in many ways, an experiential inquiry into the nature of the mind, it lends itself to western inquiry into the mind, which is generally called “psychology.” Buddhist psychology is different from western psychology not only because of its difference in perspective, but also in that it has a much broader definitions regarding what the mind actually is. The Buddhist Psychology Studies workshops seek to broaden the student’s definition of psychological constructs to include Buddhist perspectives, particularly in the areas of understanding regarding pathology and wholeness.

What does it mean that the classes are not within a specific lineage? Can I get the same depth that I would if I studied within a single tradition?
If students are interested solely in the practice of Buddhism, they might choose one tradition that speaks to the type of practice they might wish to engage. However, different schools of thought within Buddhism have different types of focus in terms of the tools and resources they provide for exploring the mind. Zen Buddhism has a rich understanding of samatha meditative practices, for instance, but does not have a strong tradition of deity meditation. Both types of practices provide important ways of knowing and transforming the mind. The effort to present the student with as varied an understanding of different forms of knowing within Buddhist schools of thought is the focus of the Buddhist Psychology Studies workshops.

I am not new to Buddhist practice. I am a long time practitioner. Is there something I can get out of this program?
When students are focused on Buddhist practice, they may have a different emphasis than students of the Buddhist Psychology Studies workshops. In the Buddhist Psychology Studies workshops, there is a strong emphasis on applying Buddhist understanding to the transformation of the mind, which may not always be the focus of a more devotion-based practice. Long time practitioners will appreciate, in particular, the exploration of Tantra, Mahayana, Vajrayana and Dzogchen perspectives and practices that are the emphasis of the Advanced Buddhist Psychology Studies workshop.