|Trans||Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften||15. Nr.||Mai 2004|
3.8. Well Being. Integrating
Eastern Knowledge in Western Culture and Western Knowledge in
Maurits G.T. Kwee (University of Flores, Buenos Aires, Argentina / Waseda University, Tokorozawa, Japan)
In this Section, convened by the TSCM (Transcultural Society for Clinical Meditation), well-being is viewed as a BioPsychoSocial-and-Spiritual phenomenon. While the psychosocial and spiritual dimensions are multicultural, the biological dimension is transcultural. Evidence is provided that Buddhist meditation and Western clinical neuropsychology complement each other. The latter is quite capable to substantiate claims of meditation's effectiveness in promoting well-being. The TSCM and its exponent NeoZEN are engaged in a quest for tangible and hard-wired proof.
There are 3 converging lines of evidence that point at the positive outcome brought about by the Buddhist practice of awareness by meditation, also called: mindfulness or witnessing. (The training's essence is to pay attention - voluntarily, nonjudgementally, and from now to now - to any phenomenon passing through the screens of the body and the mind.) Based on A. Damasio's work there seems to be neuropsychological evidence of:
(1) The social or autobiographical self that reflects life's narratives by the individual on her/his experiences of today, yesterday, and the projected tomorrow.
(2) The psychological or core self that reflects a short story of an emotional episode with a focus on today's experiences.
(3) The biological or proto-self that stores everything being attended to, but only reflects what one is aware of, like a mirror: from moment to moment.
The Buddha saw the self as an illusion, because the self is inconstant, impermanent, ever-changing, and therefore without any substance or essence in nature. Thus, buddhahood, by lack of a better word, comes along with mindfulness meditation beyond the point that one has de-constructed the self into a transcultural universal not-self.
Bodily feelings are an issue that the Buddha was interested in. Whenever a stimulus (e.g., anger) impinges on the organism, on the very moment that a neuropsychological relationship is established between the anger stimulus and the organism, an 'i-me-mine' is 'born'. This might be called a 'rebirth' of self in anger. The study of the feelings on the body, their origin and function, are today of significant importance not only to cognitive science but also to the experiential therapy of 'focusing' (E. Gendlin). The two views and working modes are being compared. It was concluded that it is necessary to develop a curriculum for an 'integrative helper' and to create a post academic degree of 'Master in Clinical Meditation Studies' to bundle the know how in order to further well-being in a transcultural manner and to ward off quacks in the mushrooming market of well-being created by the New Age wave
A discussion took place on the issue of reincarnation. The thesis is: if the self equals the soul, then there is no soul, and if there is no soul, there is no transmigration of the soul and thus no reincarnation in the sense of a new body for the self. Whereas the Buddha expounded the not-self, he did not confirm, nor denied the issue of body reincarnation. For some this remained an unanswered question in the canonical texts, for others reincarnation is a 'holy cow'. In a way the discussants were repeating the classical debate on eternalism versus nihilism that already lasted more than 2500 years in the East. The Buddha's teaching is that of the Middle Way: to experience that things are not everything, nor nothing. Such a nondualistic / nonextremist stance in life will promote well-being. Here we rest our case.
© Maurits G.T. Kwee (University of Flores, Buenos Aires, Argentina / Waseda University, Tokorozawa, Japan)
3.8. Well Being. Integrating Eastern Knowledge in Western Culture and Western Knowledge in Eastern Culture
Sektionsgruppen | Section Groups | Groupes de sections
Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu 15 Nr.
For quotation purposes:
Maurits G.T. Kwee (Buenos Aires/Tokorozawa): Report: Well-Being: Integrating Eastern Knowledge in Western Culture and Western Knowledge in Eastern Culture . In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 15/2003. WWW: http://www.inst.at/trans/15Nr/03_8/kwee_report15.htm