Adopting Religion Approaches
In the adopting religion approaches to Buddhist traditions explicated in this chapter, clinicians actively and openly take up Buddhist teachings, practices, and identities. Instead of treating Buddhist traditions as resources for clinical work, therapists taking adopting religion approaches sometimes frame psychotherapies as resources to aid Buddhist communities. The chapter briefly surveys the impact this has on Buddhist communities in the United States, a number of which have been established by psychotherapists. Such approaches can appear to upend a hierarchy between the religious and not-religious as clinicians characterize therapy as merely a tool to, for example, clear psychological obstacles from meditation practice. This reversal can be traced back to humanistic and transpersonal therapists of the 1960s-1970s like Abraham Maslow who, critiquing secularity and “the medical model,” remade therapeutic goals to include the activation of “human potential.” While contemporary therapists who take adopting religion approaches could be defined as fully practicing religion (some describe their psychotherapies as new hybrid Buddhist schools), this arrangement of religious/not-religious also remains unstable: the specific Buddhist traditions they adopt can themselves be characterized as secularized forms, already bereft of features coded as more “conventionally” or “self-evidently” religious (merit-making practices, propitiation of deities, etc.).
Keywords: Naropa Institute/University, Loving-kindness (maitri]) practices, Chögyam Trungpa, Tibetan Buddhism, Alan Watts, Zen/Chan Buddhism, Humanistic and transpersonal psychotherapy, Abraham Maslow, Peak experiences as essence of religions, The Esalen Institute
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