By Barry Magid
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Additional info for Ending the Pursuit of Happiness: A Zen Guide
More and more psychoanalysts themselves seem to be turning to one form or another of meditation practice, or returning to their Western religious roots in search of a spiritual dimension not addressed by analysis. So both Zen and psychoanalysis, whether they like to admit it or not, could use some outside help. Having trained and practiced as both a psychoanalyst and a Zen teacher, I have experienced the joys and limitations of each practice in my own life for several decades now. I hope that by now I can speak to my fellow practitioners and explorers on each side of the aisle in a language they can understand about what is happening on the other.
These teachers are increasingly open to the idea that Zen and psychotherapy can profitably work in tandem. More and more, there is no clear line that can be drawn between what draws some people to practice Zen and what causes others to seek therapy. ” There continue to be differences in how teachers handle these issues. Some, like myself, see Zen practice itself as a way to actively engage and treat these kinds of personal problems. The choice of meditation or therapy as the primary mode of practice can sometimes seem more like a matter of “fit” or self selection rather than based on the nature of the particular problem.
Is the self the equivalent of an inner organ or capacity that allows or causes us to think, feel, perceive, and so on? Does it make any sense to say that my “self” is thinking something rather than simply saying I am thinking it? Is speaking about our self like speaking about our brain? Is it a part of who we are to which we can attribute a specific function? Psychoanalysts like Heinz Kohut, who became famous for what he called “self psychology,” thought of the self as a structure or capacity of the mind.