Becoming the Wish-Fulfilling Tree: Compassion and the Transformation of Ethical Subjectivity in the Lojong Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism Open Access

Ozawa-de Silva, Brendan Richard (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/1544bp76j?locale=en
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Abstract

This dissertation explores the possibility of viewing ourselves as beings who have "compassion at the core" in order to make a contribution to the emerging fields of contemplative science, positive psychology and the interdisciplinary "science of compassion." It does so by drawing from Tibetan and Sanskrit texts from the Buddhist Lojong (blo sbyong) tradition, as well as contemporary research in psychology, neuroscience, phenomenology and anthropology that focuses on compassion, emotions, empathy, embodiment, and meaning in life. Much of this research involves a reorientation away from an individualistic account of selfhood towards a recognition of the deeply social and moral nature of experience itself and the implications this has for our understanding of human nature, compassion, and ethics. Particular attention is paid to sources and concepts employed by contemporary, secular compassion training protocols such as Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT). After exploring key questions in contemplative science, such as reductionism, religious experience and the role of ethics and metaphysics, the dissertation turns to the specific types and ingredients of compassion as understood in the Lojong tradition. It then elucidates an implicit "contemplative phenomenology" in the Lojong tradition and compares it to strains of western phenomenology, suggesting that the development of a theoretically robust contemplative phenomenology will be very helpful to the future project of neurohpenomenology in contemplative science. The final chapter explores grounded and embodied cognition as well as psychological research on emotions and the implications these research areas have for contemplative science. The conclusion revisits the implications for our understanding of compassion and ethics when experience is seen as fundamentally interpersonal and moral. This perspective is then applied to the specific topic of "meaning in life" as studied in positive psychology with suggestions for developing a "relational theory of meaning" that centralizes the interpersonal and the ethical dimensions of meaning.

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION ...1

Compassion at the Core...1

Compassion and Modern Science...8

Aims, Questions and Chapter Overview...13

Lojong and the Use of Lojong Source Texts...24

Positive Psychology: Origins and Opportunities for Growth...30

CHAPTER TWO: TOWARD A CONTEMPLATIVE SCIENCE...48

Wallace: Replacing Science...50

Slingerland: Replacing the Humanities...58

Proudfoot: Reductionism and Experience...67

Secular Ethics...84

Contemporary and Traditional Accounts of Mindfulness...91

Analyzing the Contents of Mindfulness...102

Mindfulness and Compassion in Analytical Meditation Practices...105

Conclusion...110

CHAPTER THREE: TYPES AND COMPONENTS OF COMPASSION IN THE LOJONG TRADITION...112

Three Types and Degrees of Compassion in Lojong...113

Immeasurable Compassion...117

Comparisons with the metta sutta...123

Objects of Compassion and Objectless Compassion...130

The Relationship Between Renunciation (nges 'byung) and Compassion...136

Generating Renunciation through the Four Thoughts as Preliminaries to Great Compassion...140

Conclusion...151

CHAPTER FOUR: LOJONG AND CONTEMPLATIVE PHENOMENOLOGY...154

Discovering a Contemplative Phenomenology in the Lojong Tradition...158

Empathy and Interpretation in Phenomenology...172

The Feeling of Being "Real"...186

On Sharing and Not Sharing a World...189

Conclusion...196

CHAPTER FIVE: LOJONG AND COGNITIVE SCIENCE...199

Cognitive Science of Religion...200

Grounded Theories of Cognition...204

Grounded Cognition and Contemplative Science...209

Metaphor, Liturgy and Ritual...216

Psychological Theories of Emotion and Emotion Regulation...228

Comparing Psychological and Buddhist Models...238

Relevance for the Contemplative Science of Lojong and Compassion...243

Conclusion...252

CONCLUSION...256

Compassion as Ethical Self-Cultivation...258

Compassion at the Core Redux: Towards a Relational Theory of Meaning...262

BIBLIOGRAPHY...273

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