Category: Contemplative Psychology

Why Turning Tension Into a Problem To Be Solved Doesn’t Work (and What Does)

Often our immediate response to tension and other emotional complexes is to view them as problems that we need to solve…immediately! Critical thinking and problem solving are specialties of the rational mind. However, research indicates there are a number of reasons why approaching tension with critical thinking backfires on us, leaving us feeling more tense rather than less. In this post, I look at why our usual problem solving strategies can’t resolve tension and what does.

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The Meaning of Emptiness in Buddhism

Emptiness is a translation of the Sanskrit term shunyata. For Westerners, this term can create a lot of confusion. We tend to think of emptiness in negative terms. For instance, when we lose a loved one we might say we feel empty inside. In this short post, I explain what emptiness really is according to Buddhist philosophy and touch on its experiential aspect.

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Window-Shopping For Wisdom: Jordan Peterson Debates Slavoj Zizek

One. Two. Three. Four. I declare a thumb war. As Canadian psychologist Jordan Peterson sets to square off with Czech theorist Slavoj Zizek on April 18th to debate capitalism vs. Marxism in Toronto’s Sony Center for up to $1500 per ticket, I prefer to think of it as a different sort of dualistic battle: like two intellectuals bickering across the shallow ends of  two different swimming pools.  Peterson stands in the mystic pool and Zizek ticks from a pool of madness- two things that look quite similar in small doses. Wade a bit deeper in each and neither of their careers would be possible; their own ideas would cease to feel relevant to them.

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When Mysticism and Madness Collide

Sometimes experiences of what the Zen tradition calls no-mind may come too soon.  While I prefer Pink Floyd’s line, and if the dam breaks open many years too soon, Buddhism might talk about this in terms of changes of consciousness: devotion (saddha), discipline (sila), detachment (caga), and depersonalization (panna).  The later, panna experience can sometimes come prematurely.  Sometimes the subsequent integration is smoother; in my case , it wasn’t.

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