Reaching Out to the Buddha in Modern Japan Psychotherapy and Buddhism as Two Sides of a Coin
Play • 1 hr 2 min
[Recorded 26th November 2015] This paper looks at the idea, popularized in the postwar period by D.T. Suzuki, Erich Fromm, and Alan Watts, that psychotherapy and Buddhist practice essentially get at the same thing: working through false layers of the self towards something more authentic. Reaching out to the Buddha, they argued, is a matter of reaching inwards. But much of this thinking was rooted in a modernist take on Zen Buddhism that emerged largely from Western cultural and philosophical concerns. What about the view from Japan? In this paper we explore the roots of Japan’s prewar psychotherapies in the much larger Shin Buddhist tradition, and look at the fundamental questions these therapies raised about history, culture, authoritarian politics, and the meaning of religious experience. Christopher Harding is Lecturer in Asian History at the University of Edinburgh. He is a cultural historian of modern India and Japan, working on these two regions’ encounters with western religion, philosophy, and psychiatry from the late nineteenth century onwards. Recent work includes a co-edited collection on Religion and Psychotherapy in Modern Japan (Routledge, 2014) and an article on ‘Japanese Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: The Making of a Relationship’ in History of Psychiatry (June, 2014). He is currently working on a monograph: Japan's Freud.’ This seminar took place at Oxford Brookes University on 26 November 2015.
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