Thursday, February 8, 2007

The Resonance Of Emptiness

The Resonance Of Emptiness
A Buddhist Inspiration For A Contemporary Psychotherapy
Gay Watson; Curzon, 1998, £40 h/b

Many therapists are attracted to, and even influenced by, Buddhism but, as Watson’s thorough study shows, the one cannot simply be grafted on to the other. Both therapy and Buddhism involve a process of mental change, yet how this change occurs depends on the understanding of the mind. Watson aims to contexualise this encounter within Buddhist views of selfhood, consciousness and identity, as well as the changing understandings of these phenomena in contemporary western philosophy and psychology.

Such a weighty agenda makes this a book only for the philosophically minded, and it bears many hall-marks of its origin as a PhD thesis. Watson concludes that Buddhism accords with and extends post-modern understandings of the self, particularly in its notions of interconnectedness and insubstantiality, and outlines her ideas of a Buddhist-inspired psychotherapy. Yet, although Watson finds many sources and analogues for her ideas, The Resonance Of Emptiness is finally an assertion of a personal approach to Buddhism and therapy rather than an argument for it.

Vishvapani, Dharma Life 9, Winter 1998

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