Contexts and Dialogue

Contexts and Dialogue: Yogacara Buddhism and Modern Psychology on the Subliminal Mind

TAO JIANG
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt6wqqf7
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    Contexts and Dialogue
    Book Description:

    Are there Buddhist conceptions of the unconscious? If so, are they more Freudian, Jungian, or something else? If not, can Buddhist conceptions be reconciled with the Freudian, Jungian, or other models? These are some of the questions that have motivated modern scholarship to approach ālayavijñāna, the storehouse consciousness, formulated in Yogācāra Buddhism as a subliminal reservoir of tendencies, habits, and future possibilities. Tao Jiang argues convincingly that such questions are inherently problematic because they frame their interpretations of the Buddhist notion largely in terms of responses to modern psychology. He proposes that, if we are to understand ālayavijñāna properly and compare it with the unconscious responsibly, we need to change the way the questions are posed so that ālayavijñāna and the unconscious can first be understood within their own contexts and then recontextualized within a dialogical setting. In so doing, certain paradigmatic assumptions embedded in the original frameworks of Buddhist and modern psychological theories are exposed. Jiang brings together Xuan Zang’s ālayavijñāna and Freud’s and Jung’s unconscious to focus on what the differences are in the thematic concerns of the three theories, why such differences exist in terms of their objectives, and how their methods of theorization contribute to these differences. Contexts and Dialogue puts forth a fascinating, erudite, and carefully argued presentation of the subliminal mind. It proposes a new paradigm in comparative philosophy that examines the what, why, and how in navigating the similarities and differences of philosophical systems through contextualization and recontextualization.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6198-8
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-20)

    One major attraction of Buddhism to the contemporary world is its therapeutic value, which is derived from its penetrating insights into the human psyche and many of its practices. As David Loy observes, “Buddhism’s main point of entry into Western culture is now Western psychology, especially psychotherapy” (2). This is evidenced by the fact that “Buddhism . . . is increasingly being looked on, not just as a religion, but as a system for understanding and promoting personal growth, and as such it is seen as offering a much more positive idea of the nature of mental health, and a...

  5. 1 THE ORIGIN OF THE CONCEPT OF ĀLAYAVIJÑĀNA
    (pp. 21-47)

    Religious doctrines are a complex web of teachings whose sources are far from being singular or homogeneous. If a religious tradition has a founder, whether actual or alleged, the received teachings of the founder become the foundation upon which the orthodoxy evolves. However, when the founder addresses questions from disciples directly, various explanations are given on different occasions within different contexts to different audiences addressing different concerns. When the founder dies, his disciples are left with the task of assembling his teachings to preserve them for future generations. Because different teachings target different audiences in their lived situations, apparent inconsistencies...

  6. 2 ĀLAYAVIJÑĀNA IN THE CHENG WEISHI LUN: A BUDDHIST THEORY OF THE SUBLIMINAL MIND
    (pp. 48-86)

    In the last chapter, I briefly traced the origin of the concept ofālayavijñāna. I investigated the rationale behind the Yogācāra postulation ofālayavijñānaas a new form of consciousness,vijñāna,which is initially designed to provide support for the meditator during two meditative states wherein mental activities are supposed to have stopped. However, once formulated, the development ofālayavijñānatakes a course of its own, and the concept is expanded to accommodate other doctrinal needs of Buddhism, the most important of which is to account for our sense of self and our cognition of external objects.

    In this chapter,...

  7. 3 THE UNCONSCIOUS: FREUD AND JUNG
    (pp. 87-106)

    In the last chapter, I examined in detail the concept ofālayavijñānawithin the context of Yogācāra Buddhism as presented in theCWSL. I attempted to defend the viability of Yogācāra’s qualified idealist system and the indispensable role ofālayavijñānain that system. As we have seen,ālayavijñānais formulated to account for the continuity of our experience without resorting to any form of reification.

    Given the subliminal nature ofālayavijñāna,the concept appears to have a natural affinity with the notion of the unconscious as it has been developed in modern Western psychology, first by Freud and later Jung.¹...

  8. 4 THREE PARADIGMS OF THE SUBLIMINAL MIND: XUAN ZANG, FREUD, AND JUNG
    (pp. 107-127)

    In the last two chapters, I conducted close examinations of Xuan Zang’s Yogācāra Buddhist formulation ofālayavijñānaand Freud’s and Jung’s theories of the unconscious to familiarize us with the indigenous contexts of these three theories of the subliminal consciousness. In this chapter and the next, I will bring the three together by introducing them to a new context of dialogue. Within this new dialogical context, I will investigate the questions ofwhatthe specific thematic differences among them are,whythey are so different, andhowthey come to be so different. The first question examines what is thematized...

  9. 5 ACCESSIBILITY OF THE SUBLIMINAL MIND: TRANSCENDENCE VERSUS IMMANENCE
    (pp. 128-144)

    In the last chapter, I carried out a comparative study of Xuan Zang’s formulation of storehouse consciousness, Freud’s unconscious, and Jung’s unconscious by focusing on their thematic differences and operative presuppositions, as well as the different objectives they set out to accomplish. I concluded that these theories belong to radically different theoretical paradigms, designed to address completely different audiences and their concerns. I will now address how their particular modes of reasoning contribute to the accomplishment of their objectives.

    As we discussed in Chapter Four, the objective of Xuan Zang’s Yogācāra theory is to help Buddhist practitioners reach awakening; the...

  10. CONCLUSION: AN EMERGING NEW WORLD AS A NEW CONTEXT
    (pp. 145-154)

    This book is an exercise in comparative thought on the notion of the subliminal mind as it moves through a series of contexts. I have shunned the question of the actual nature of the subliminal mind. Instead, my focus has been how discussions on the actual nature of the subliminal mind have been formulated and defended within different cultural, historical, and philosophical contexts. Indeed, we have seen that the question concerning the actual nature of the subliminal mind cannot be totally detached from such contextual settings, without which the question itself does not even make sense. In other words, there...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 155-176)
  12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 177-184)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 185-198)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 199-202)