By Neal J.

Pollock (VA USA) - See all my reviews When originally published in 1986, it was groundbreaking; it's still worth reading, though there are similar books now (Daniel Meckel & Robert Moore's "Self Liberation: The Jung-Buddhist Dialogue" & others on Western Psychology & Buddhism [See my draft listmania]). Here the author effectively demonstrates many similarities/parallels between Jung's works & Vajrayana, but not Mahamudra/Dzogchen (MM/Dz). She provides an introduction to each system-with interesting observationsp. 6: quoting Nancy Wilson Ross, Buddhism: A Way of Life and Thought (NY: Vintage, 1981) p. 44, "It has been said that [Hinayana] emphasizes the humanity of the Buddha; Mahayana emphasizes the Buddha nature of humanity." p. 17: "According to one author [S. B. Dasgupta, An Introduction to Tantric Buddhism, University of Calcutta, 1974, p. 54] there was no one particular person who introduced tantra into Buddhism at any particular time, but rather that it has been gradually incorporated in the course of centuries. The same author maintains that there are no fundamental differences between Hindu and Buddhist tantras [p. 145]." Others disagree, stating "it was crystallized into a definitive form by the 3rd century" CE & that there are fundamental differences especially in the definition of yab-yum. p. 21: "On the path toward freedom any passion and desire must be utilized and transformed into wisdom. This is a very basic principle of any Tantric practice. In this respect it is similar to homeopathy, working on the principle that like cures like. The very same element that causes a disease may if applied in a proper dose act as an antidote and a cure." She then compares the methodologies, archetypal symbols, similarities/differences including--Tara, Vajrayogini vs. Jung's Anima, Book of the Dead, bliss vs. suffering, attachment, cultural differences, dangers, Buddhahood vs. individuation, compassion, & synchronicity. For example, she claims that Tibetans coming west was not coincidence but a synchronistic event. I agree with the vast majority of her assertions. However, since p. 102: "Jung claims he does not make philosophical or metaphysical statements and that his work is based on empirical evidence only," it seems likely that Jung's limitations of individuation vs. Buddhahood were due to his lack of empirical observation of a Buddha. So, this distinction may be illusory.

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Further, despite his Thinker orientation, Jung's lack of compassion may be overstated considering his guidance to therapists regarding empathy during individual dyadic relationships with clients vs. the application of theory. Also, many (e.g. Bhikshuni Lekshe Tsomo) have commented upon the effects on Buddhism in new countries-now starting to manifest in the West. Some psychological differences were shown in Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron's "Blossoms of the Dharma"- p. 144: "Feelings of low self-esteem and inadequacy are prevalent in Westerners...Tibetans do not have words in their language for low self-esteem or guilt, so Westerners' problems with these feelings are not readily comprehensible to them. His Holiness had difficulty understanding how someone could not like himself. He looked around this room of educated, successful people and asked, `Who feels low self-esteem?' Everyone looked at each other and replied, `We all do.' His Holiness was shocked." Also, Bhikshuni Wendy Finster (a clinical psychologist from Australia) p. 158 "Only enlightened persons are totally mentally healthy." She speaks to sangha dangers, responsibilities, & cultural differences and says: p. 166: [not meeting one's expectations] "causes us to judge ourselves harshly and feel guilty, and as a result our self-esteem plummets. This surprises our Asian teachers; they do not realize the level of self-criticism and self-hatred that can arise in individuals raised in our culture." This view does not conflict with Jung's warning about going native with Eastern religions. Nevertheless, Moacanin argues convincingly for adoption from the East: pp. 104-5: "Eastern symbols are fresh to the Western mind and therefore possess a greater capacity to inspire and stimulate the imagination, while unfortunately for many in the West our symbols have become ossified and thus have lost their intrinsic meaning." Since she states p. 47: "Concepts are instruments of protection from experience" which reflects deep similarities in the 2 systems (& MM/Dz), it remains to be seen how the 2 will interact in the future. Still, archetypal symbols are universal. Thus, the 4-sided deity mandalas of Vajrayana and their Mt. Meru surrounded by 4 continents do not significantly differ from John Weir Perry's "Lord of the 4 Quarters."

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