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Received: January 10, 2000Accepted: February 20, 2001
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
An Introduction to Buddhism for the Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist
Sameet M. Kumar,
University of MiamiBasic concepts in Buddhism are presented for cognitive-behavioral therapists. Buddhist theoretical causes of suffering are presentedas extensions of cognitive assumptions of selfhood. The essentialist position is contrasted to the Buddhist perspectives of dialecticsand interdependence. The focus on impermanence in Buddhist thought is presented. The synergistic relationship between compassionand mindfulness is examined. Compassion as both behavioral alternative to essentialism as well as precursor to mindfulness is dis-cussed. Additionally, mindfulness meditation from the Buddhist perspective is presented.
OTH Buddhism and psychology seek the facilitationof growth, insight, and meaningful connection withothers and freedom from suffering. The recent dialoguebetween psychology and Buddhism has resulted in the ac-ceptance of Buddhist meditational techniques and prin-ciples by many clinicians and their clients. Althoughmuch information exists on specific techniques and prac-tices relevant to clinical psychology, the original contextand rationale of these practices remains a mystery tomany psychologists, as well as clients. The purpose of thisarticle will be to present concisely the basic premises ofBuddhism for the cognitive-behavioral therapist.Given the inherent complexity in summarizing a2,500-year-old system, this presentation has no precon-ceptions of being comprehensive, and will undoubtedlybe insufficient to those already familiar with the basic te-nets of Buddhism. It should also be pointed out that thetopics that are presented here do not encompass the to-tality of Buddhism, or of all "Buddhisms."
Cognitive and Behavioral Practice 9, 40-43, 2002
1077-7229/02/40-4351.00/0Copyright © 2002 by Association for Advancement of BehaviorTherapy. All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
Definitions of Buddhism
is a very broad generalization rather than aspecific term. In the United States, the popularizationof Buddhism has resulted in an amalgamation of di-verse Buddhist traditions from all over Asia. Althoughall schools of Buddhism share basic tenets, it is impor-tant to understand that on the level of daily practice,the Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka differs signifi-cantly from that practiced in Mongolia. The informa-tion presented in this paper can therefore not be ex-haustive to all definitions of Buddhism, but is basic tomost of them.In addition, American Buddhism is still in its infancy,and can in itself be seen as a syncretism of differentstreams of practice. To be fair to the reader, it should benoted that the author is more familiar with TibetanBuddhism than other Buddhist traditions. This empha-sis on Tibetan sources is not meant to minimize thevalue or contributions of other schools such as Zen, butis rather a reflection of the author's own encounter withBuddhism.It is important to note that the classification of Bud-dhism remains controversial. As a body of beliefs con-tained in temples, rituals, doctrine, and a large body of