2008-09 Catalog

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Program Description

Turning Eastward: Explorations in East/West Psychology

CANCELLED Last Updated: 02/25/2008

Fall and Winter quarters

Faculty: Ryo Imamura psychology

Major areas of study include personality theory, abnormal psychology, Jungian psychology, ethics in psychotherapy, Buddhist studies, Asian psychology, socially engaged Buddhism, Chinese spiritual paths, aging, and studies in death and dying.

Class Standing: Sophomores or above; transfer students welcome.

Western psychology has so far failed to provide us with a satisfactory understanding of the full range of human experience. It has largely overlooked the core of human understanding—our everyday mind, our immediate awareness of being with all of its felt complexity and sensitive attunement to the vast network of interconnectedness with the universe around us. Instead, Western psychology has chosen to analyze the mind as though it were an object independent of the analyzer, consisting of hypothetical structures and mechanisms that cannot be directly experienced. Western psychology’s neglect of the living mind—both in its everyday dynamics and its larger possibilities—has led to a tremendous upsurge of interest in the ancient wisdom of the East, particularly Buddhism, which does not divorce the study of psychology from the concern with wisdom and human liberation.

In direct contrast, Eastern psychology shuns any impersonal attempt to objectify human life from the viewpoint of an external observer, instead studying consciousness as a living reality which shapes individual and collective perception and action. The primary tool for directly exploring the mind is meditation or mindfulness, an experiential process in which one becomes an attentive participant-observer in the unfolding of moment-to-moment consciousness.

Learning mainly from lectures, readings, videos, workshops, seminar discussions, individual and group research projects and field trips, we will take a critical look at the basic assumptions and tenets of the major currents in traditional Western psychology, the concept of mental illness, and the distinctions drawn between normal and abnormal thought and behavior. We will then investigate the Eastern study of mind that has developed within spiritual traditions, particularly within the Buddhist tradition. In doing so, we will take special care to avoid the common pitfall of most Western interpretations of Eastern thought—the attempt to fit Eastern ideas and practices into unexamined Western assumptions and traditional intellectual categories. Lastly, we will address the encounter between Eastern and Western psychology as possibly having important ramifications for the human sciences in the future, potentially leading to new perspectives on the whole range of human experience and life concerns.

Credits: 16 per quarter

Enrollment: 25

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program is preparatory for careers and future studies in psychology, counseling, social work, education, Asian studies and religious studies.

Planning Units: Society, Politics, Behavior and Change

Program Revisions

Date Revision
February 25th, 2008 This program has been cancelled.