As the world’s oldest religion, that has spread in the Middle Ages over a vast territory – from the Caspian Sea to the Pacific Ocean- Buddhism has had a long, diverse and profound influence on the historical development of the spiritual culture of the peoples of South, Southeast, Central and East Asia. Buddhist tradition continued to exert considerable influence on modern culture of the East, where Buddhism has been a traditional religion. Moreover, in recent years we can see a dramatic increase in the influence of the Eastern teachings in many Western countries – U.S., Canada, Western Europe and Latin America, etc.
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Study of diverse cultural and historical heritage of Buddhism requires a comprehensive and integrated analysis, taking into account various aspects of its interaction with the socio-cultural and religious – tradition of the East. Important for the integrated study of Buddhism are historical and psychological research, which should identify a variety of psychological aspects of its functioning in the traditional culture of the East.
The relevance of highlighting of the psychological aspects of Buddhism as a distinct object of study is primarily determined by the role played by psychology – both the theoretical and applied – in the Buddhist religious and cultural complex, being essentially one of its main structure and functional elements. (Punnaji, M., 2004)
European scientists and Christians consider the many theories of Buddhism, its practices. Buddhist philosophy and teachings on mental health is now widely used by European scientists, psychologists and physicians.
The psychological aspects of Buddhism
The psychological aspects have played a crucial role in the process of the historical interaction of Buddhism with the customary religious, philosophical, socio-cultural and psychological traditions in the countries of the East, where Buddhism was widely spread in ancient and medieval times and where it has become a powerful factor in the socio- economic and cultural life. Often the influence of psychological aspects of Buddhism was of greater importance in shaping the identity of thinking and social behavior of its followers than the effect of a strictly ideological perspective.
Studying the psychological influence of Buddhism has both theoretical and practical importance, since in Buddhism had worked out effective methods of psycho and emotional self-regulation. A particular interest to the psychological aspects of Buddhism has arisen from the fact that psychology is a key functional element of Buddhist religious complex. Psychology, namely the theory of consciousness, was the main subject of Buddhist religious and philosophical doctrines from the earliest stages of its development, whereas the ontological perspective or entirely determined by the soteriological aims and objectives, or viewed through the lens of psychology. On other hand, the psychology of Buddhism carried ontological nature and Buddhists did not talk about the world as another consciousness, but as the presence of mind, “reflected” in it. (Punnaji, M. (2004)
Psychologism of Buddhist beliefs is expressed, inter alia, in the origin of mentality, of its essence, the problem of personality and its relationship to nature and society were the focus of the followers of Buddhism almost since its inception. A man being an integral part of the world was perceived by the religious complex as the central problem of world outlook. By the way, having tried to solve it, Buddhists clearly traced critical attitude towards the surrounding reality, which was due to the profound socio-political crisis in society at that time. A generalized philosophical and psychological expression of such a critical attitude of early Buddhism was the famous postulate that existence is suffering. Suffering is itself inseparable from the suffering of the subject and, consequently, on his psyche. In fact, suffering is no more than one of the states of the human psyche, and, according to the Buddhists, the most typical, the general condition for the absolute majority of the people and all living creatures.
At the same time, Buddhism asserts that every person is potentially able to move from a state of suffering to a state of complete serenity, with the highest peace, profound wisdom, and through their own volitional effort and action. Therefore central to the Buddhist concept of “salvation” from worldly delusions and suffering has taken the doctrine of achieving the state of “enlightenment” or “awakening”, which became the highest soteriological goal of all Buddhist schools. This led to the importance of Buddhism not only “theory” to achieve “enlightened” state, but also the practical methods of changing the source of moral and psychological state of a person.
Psychologization of mental problems by Buddhism makes it necessary to focus on studying the psychological aspects of Buddhism, the Buddhism view on mental health and mental illnesses.
Comprehensive study of the psychological aspects of Buddhism take us to identify the internal mechanisms of the impact of Buddhism on social behavior and thinking man’s style of thinking and living, will more fully address many questions of psychology, of increasing importance in light of the problems of cultural interaction between East and West.
Psychology deals with the laws of mental development of individuals. Comparison of the results of this development in various conditions, including the views of Buddhism on the issue, may help in studying the human psyche, his mental behavior.
The first of these aspects is connected, as we have said, with the need to reveal the essence of the Buddhist concepts of the human psyche, its elements, on the norms of human behavior. The second aspect is the need to take account of the impact of the whole religious and philosophical complex of Buddhist culture on the minds and behavior. This influence is carried out in various ways, and together with the influence over ideology, worldview, and there was another way – through psychology. This psychological effect of channel was carried out through different methods of changing the psychological status of the individual, the rules of his conduct. Buddhism has developed a huge number of different methods and techniques of mental preparation. It should be noted that they were applied in ancient times, and also are widely used nowadays in everyday life and in also medicine.
Buddhist ideas about the human psyche and his mental health
It is necessary to study valuable techniques of Buddhism about mental health and human behavior, rooted in the distant past. Learning these techniques for various purposes, including for medicine, to determine the psychology of human norms and rules of his behavior.
Teachings of the Buddha consists of three interrelated sections:
â€¢ exercise on mental health;
â€¢ talk about meditation;
â€¢ explaining about how to find wisdom.
In each of these practices there is a special condition, which is achieved by a combination of tranquility (meditative concentration), and penetration into the essence of things (Wisdom). But the main aspect is mental health.
Tibetan Medicine is a very ancient doctrine that is based on Buddhist concepts of the mental and physical health. It heals physical and mental health, which are interrelated, and physiological health depends on the mental behavior.
Why all these studies in Buddhism, philosophy and psychology are important? The fact is that every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering, and just to achieve happiness is very difficult. Person has to understand many things, consciously strive for goals and build a fortune, but this requires a great deal to know. For example, you need to know the causes of suffering, to be able to get rid of them, simply because of the suffering as such we can not escape. You must know the causes of many phenomena to be able to achieve its goal. All these studies give a man a certain knowledge about the causes and consequences, the relationship which forms a human life, his mental health.
In Buddhism, a strong relationship between cause and effect is vividly observed: a person commits certain acts and receives certain consequences of these actions as the causes. People suffer because they commit evil deeds. Teachings of the Buddha said that suffering and happiness is not given to man by God. God is not the creator of our happiness or misery. We ourselves create his happiness and his unhappiness. No one to blame for our pain, in the state of our health: our fault, that hurt. If your health sometimes creates problems for you, you should treat it well, and achieve better health.
The same situation is also in the mental field – the mental, spiritual realms of our lives: a state of mind and our senses is aspects of our own behavior. Our mental illnesses, such as anger, jealousy, outburst, are a consequence of poor mental “diet”, the result of ill-spiritual state. When you’re obsessed with anger or rage or any other sort of bad feelings, it means that your mental sphere is not quite good condition and you are it’s not a healthy condition causes the other people in the same state, make them unhappy. All the emotional state of discomfort is a consequence of your own spiritual work, as you put yourself in such a state.
If to focus the Buddhist teachings, we can go on two aspects – the first is an aspect of behavior and dimension motivation, and the second is intention. Buddhist behavior in the first place implies that you should not harm anybody, and secondly, involves helping others. Why should we behave in a way that no one hurt? Because we want happiness and do not want to suffering: the infliction of harm to other lead to our own suffering and mental illnesses.
Daily practice of mental health according to Buddhist teachings:
1. Check your motivation as often as possible. In the morning, even before you get out of bed, fortify yourself for a whole day in the non-violent, positive outlook on the world. Evening, think about what you did all day.
2. Evaluate how fully of sufferings is your life:
â€¢ There is a physical and inner pain associated with disease, old age and death, and you will naturally seek to avoid it;
â€¢ there are interim experiences (such as the use of good food), which seem to be on their own pleasure, but with excess bring the pain: it is – the suffering of change. When the pleasure is replaced by pain, pay attention to how nature manifests itself in a deep initial pleasure. Attachment to the surface pleasures bring only more pain;
â€¢ Think about what you are involved in the process due to the all-pervading that you are not under control: they control the karma and destructive emotions.
3. Gradually develop a deeper and more realistic look at your body, considering its components – skin, blood, muscles, bones, etc.
4. Carefully analyze your life. If you’re constantly going to do it, then sooner or later will not be able to loiter away their lives, acting like a robot, or seeing the path to happiness in making money.
5. Learn how to positively perceive difficulties. Remind yourself that deferring difficult situation with a sense of gratitude in my heart, you will, inter alia, prevents even worse karmic consequences. Take over the hardships of similar suffering of all others.
6. Always assess the possible negative and positive consequences of anger, affection, envy and hatred:
â€¢ when you will see that these effects are very destructive to continue their meditation. Over time, your confidence would grow. Continual reflection, for example, about the dangers of anger, make you understand that anger is futile;
â€¢ this conclusion, in turn, gradually will bring your anger to nothing. (Zajonc, Arthur, 2004)
Implementation of these practices leads to a correct mental behavior of man, his mental health.
The main cause of mental illnesses of people is the abnormal behavior
Buddhist teaching contains knowledge about reincarnation, that there is life after death. If we all explore and understand in accordance with the concepts and principles of Buddhism, and if we follow the strict requirements of the doctrine, then our life will become much easier and can be painlessly solve our problems.
Buddhist teachings say that the death of our existence does not cease, that there is a next life, person feels a responsibility for it. In this – the essence of Buddhism: as a mental entity does not disappear, and live constantly, moving from one life to another, then you need to think about how we live, about the meaning and significance of life. Here’s why the Buddhists say about this concept, as karma. If a person committed a wrong act, it leaves a trace in your mind, which passes from life to life. There are negative, positive and neutral tracks. From the bad deed is a negative mark – in karma – and it affects you in the future rebirth. That’s why no need to harm others, to commit negative actions: they are stored in karma, and you because of this become unhappy. such actions are abnormal and lead to mental illness.
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If a person wants to be happy, to achieve mental health, you need to create a cause that will make him happy. One of the main reasons – is to help others. The basic theory of Buddhism lies in suggesting that the cause of happiness – is to do good to others, and the source of happiness – a good heart. Bringing the benefit of others, a person thus becomes happy and makes others happy. What happens to the other, is reflected in each and you need to help others – it will help everyone. In helping other beings – the root of their own happiness and health of every person.
There are practical advices on the correct mental human behavior. Following these practices helps to achieve the proper mental health.
Fundamentals of correct mental human behavior:
1. Generosity. Includes a donation to the material values such as money, clothes, food; act of love; transfer of other knowledge about spiritual teachings and practices; alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings caught in a difficult situation: help even the ant caught in a puddle.
2. Morality. Under it primarily means an altruistic outlook and behavior of the bodhisattva.
3. Patience is shown in a difficult situation, as well as when performing difficult tasks, such as comprehension exercises and long-term practice.
4. Zeal, enthusiasm in supporting the good deeds and promotes education of other perfections.
5. Concentration – the practice of purposeful, intense meditation
6. The wisdom needed to understand the nature of the cycle of existence and impermanence, as well as due to the appearance and emptiness.
The six perfections, in turn, can be reduced to three Bodhisattva Practices: improvement of morals (which includes such perfection as the generosity and patience), improve concentration, as well as the perfection of wisdom. For all these exercises require perfection in zeal. Thus, all these six perfections are included in the threefold practice of morality, meditation and wisdom. (Zajonc, A., 2004)
Along with the behavioral aspect of Buddhism an important place in it is a philosophical idea – a conception point of view on things, a certain approach to the consideration of environmental life. This is a theory of interdependence. There are several methods or levels of interpretation of interdependence: first, the concept of interdependence, causes and consequences. In every phenomenon is the cause, for example, if you have a headache, then something caused it. And if there’s a reason it must necessarily be a consequence. If a man commits evil in relation to other people, then it necessarily will respond to him, but if he helps other people, then it means that he helps himself.
There are 14 basic commandments of the Buddha on the right way of life and correct behavior . They are:
1. The biggest enemy of human life – is he
2. The greatest folly in life – this is a lie
3. The biggest failure in life – it is arrogance
4. The greatest sadness in life – is the envy
5. The biggest mistake in life – to lose oneself
6. The biggest fault in man’s life – ingratitude
7. The most deplorable in human life – impairing their dignity
8. The most admirable of human life – to rise after the fall
9. The greatest loss of human life – loss of hope
10. The greatest asset in life – health and mind
11. The largest debt in human life – heartfelt feelings
12. The greatest gift in life – generosity
13. The biggest drawback in life – lack of understanding
14. The greatest consolation in life – good work (Zajonc, A, 2004)
From this we can conclude that a good attitude towards people is the correct behavior, and hence a positive effect on a person, his life and health. The correct moral actions are the basis of mental health and the basis of his overall health.
The value of the Buddhist philosophy of mental health practices today
It is surprising that modern man can take the book, which is already 2500 years old, and unexpectedly found in her thoughts that struck him. Of course, the Buddha’s teachings is not only relevant for the present time, it is also attractive from the scientific and medical point of view. The freedom from dogmas and rituals, Buddhism makes perfect religion for modern life. Although now we have moved away from tradition, we still need some spiritual discipline, and it comes with one of the major world religions, which includes recommendations for appropriate behavior in order to achieve mental health.
Many scientists and doctors today are turning to Buddhist practice, study their content and impact. Scientists conduct experiments that prove the positive effects of Buddhist practices in behavior and mental and physical health.
Widely spread and studied is the practice of meditation, which helps a person get rid of many mental suffering and distress. The scientist Richard Davidson in Madison at the Department of Psychology University of Wisconsin conducted experiments on the effect of meditation on the human brain. These studies have shown improved performance and activity of the human brain during meditation. It means that meditation practices can really help people to cure some mental problems and illnesses. ( Hall, S. 2005)
Early results of the experiments do not have the support of scientists. Now neurobiological study of Buddhist practices to overcome the threshold of skepticism, scientists, and are worthy of scientific attention. This is partly explained by new, more powerful brain-scanning technology, which may not only reflect the state of mind in the midst of meditation but also to detect persistent changes in the functioning of the brain months after a long meditation course. The fact that the brain can learn, adapt and rebuild at the molecular level due to the experience and training, suggests that meditation may leave a biological trace in the brain – the imprint, which, given the rapid technological advances of our time, perhaps to define and measure. “This is consistent throughout the literature on the neurobiology”, – says neurobiologist from Harvard, Stephen Kosslin. (Ratanakul, P., 2002)
Experiments in Madison also are proved by research that shows that meditation in the Buddhist style has not only emotional, but an unequivocal physiological effects. That is the power of meditation can be designed in such a way that, along with the decrease of stress and dissolving negative emotions will improve and the entire mental system of man.
Tibetan Medicine is a very ancient doctrine that is based on Buddhist concepts of the mental and physical health. It heals physical and mental health, which are interrelated, and physiological health depends on the mental behavior. No medicine has reached such perfection as Tibetian, because their medicine – is a science, philosophy of life, the basis of his physical and mental health of people.
Some scholars argue that Buddhism – is a science. Psychologists, studying Buddhism, say that Buddhism – is psychology. Why is this happening? It is perceived Buddhism, because it contains many aspects, philosophy, psychology, many industry Sciences – and reflects many aspects of human life, activities, internal essence. That is why European scientists and Christians consider the many theories of Buddhism, its practices. Buddhist philosophy and teachings on mental health is now widely used by European scientists, psychologists and physicians.
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