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Erich From and Zen Buddhism - Essay Example

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This paper will discuss and assess the views of psychoanalyst Erich Fromm about Zen Buddhism. It would also encompass his brief biography and different relevant issues pertaining to his life and theories will also be discussed.
At a meeting in Mexico during 1957, Professor Suzuki, leading spokesman of Zen in the world, described the Zen approach with special emphasis on its potential for psychoanalysis…
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Download file to see previous pages The unconscious, in terms of Zen, the unidentified, is antescientific but however not beyond the reach of consciousness. To become conscious of the unconscious is certainly Zen's primary task.
He completed his education at the Universities of Frankfurt, Heidelberg, and Munich, and at the Berlin Institute of Psychoanalysis. Following his immigration to the United States in 1933, he established a private practice in psychiatry and taught at New York University and the National University of Mexico. His main writings explored those needs that he recognized as exclusively human- relatedness, transcendence, rootedness, individuality, and a frame of orientation. His works, several of which reached wide audiences, include Escape from Freedom (1941), Man For Himself (1947), The Heart of Man (1964), and The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (1973).
The manifestation of many contributions to the topic of Zen Buddhism, is in more than one way indicative of our state of affairs in the Western World. If the need of Oriental philosophy is however increasingly felt in our times, the explanation would rather point to a psychological frame of reference. Erich Fromm maintains that there is a paradoxical element in Zen Buddhism which is more congenial to Western rational thought than is Western religion itself. Thus according to him, it is not surprising that the teachings of Zen help Western man to find an answer to his most upsetting problems. (Fromm, 2000)
C.G. Jung is inclined to equate the terms satori with the Self. (Suzuki, 1999) Jung terms the ego as the center of awareness. The Self embraces and includes the ego. (Jung, 1998 ) Satori is, therefore, a release of the ego through the Self, to which the Buddha-Nature, i.e. total consciousness is added. Sigmund Freud is less hopeful about the success of this approach. Even as the methods used in reaching conscious awareness are varied, there remains however a weak relationship between Zen and psychoanalysis. The Zen master, to be true, maintains that intellection of any kind is a key offense so far as the understanding of Zen is concerned, while Freud emphatically posits: "where id was, there ego shall be". The great experts of Zen are well aware of this quandary, and it is in this light that Suzuki states: "If I am asked ... what Zen teaches, I would reply, Zen teaches nothing. Whatever teachings there are in Zen, they come out of one's own mind. We teach ourselves; Zen only points the way. Unless this pointing is teaching, there is certainly nothing in Zen intentionally set up as its fundamental doctrines or as its fundamental philosophy." (Suzuki, 2000) Hubert Benoit concurs with this idea when he points out that Zen comprises a variety of angles. "My reader", he states, "should understand that no artificial understanding is deemed to pass from my mind to his ... this synthesis should happen in his mind by a means appropriate to himself, as it occurs in my mind by a means appropriate to me". (Benoit,1995)
Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis
Many a fundamental difference between Zen and psycho-analysis is already perceptible at this point, but so are other similarities, despite the varied methods of approach. It is thus ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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