Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Buddhism And Psychology

Serendipity can't get better than this.

I naturally skeptical of travelogues. I find the genre pretty boring. I picked up Himalaya by Michael Palin because there was nothing better at a small book shop at St. Pancras (before it became the home of the Eurostar) while waiting for a train. This must have been two years ago.

Advertisement obviously works. The cover says "The No. 1 Bestseller".
Or perhaps it was the title of the book Himalaya.
I mean, ask any Indian - any - about Himalaya he would go all misty eye - even if 99% of the population has never visited the Himalayas. We feel that it belongs to us.

After all we created it!
(I would rather not go into a detailed geography lesson on the Continental Drift Theory, The Indian Shelf and Tethys Sea.)

The book lay in my shelf for the last two years. I started reading it a few days ago. And I haven't stopped giggling since. My sons keep looking at me as if I have gone nuts.

Michael Palin has a way with his words. His humour is infectious. And his style of writing reminds me Of Yes Prime Minister. The book is actually a diary in print (are all Travelogues written this way?) and entries are short and crisp.

This book is about the BBC crew journey from one end of Himalaya (Pakistan) to the other (Assam, India) - but it is not a mountaineering expedition.

I have just reached his meeting with Dalai Lama in McLeodganj, India, and then I discovered something that I was totally unaware of.

Buddhism is far from being an irrelevant, unchanging religion. Buddhists and scientists have much in common, while in the field of psychology the Buddhists are well ahead. He [meaning Dalai Lama] grins. By 2000 years.

This is new fish! I google it up and of course, if it is not present in Google, it does not exist! And if it is not in Wikipedia, it cannot be considered authentic!

You get 10,600 results on googling "Buddhism and Psychology". There is a full length article on Buddhism and psychology in Wikipedia.

I reproduce this from the Wiki:

Since the time of Gautama Buddha in the fifth century BC, an analysis of the mind and its workings has been central to the practices of his followers. This analysis was codified during the first millennium after his death within the system called, in the Pali language of Buddha's day, Abhidhamma (or Abhidharma in Sanskrit), which means 'ultimate doctrine'.... Every branch of Buddhism today has a version of these basic psychological teachings on the mind, as well as its own refinements" (Goleman, 2004, pp. 72-73).

This is certainly a new field to explore.
Buddhist Prayer Wheels

Note: Both the pictures used belong to Pål Anders Martinussen (See gallery)

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