a public event
"Buddhist Psychology"? Much Less and Much More
Center for Buddhist Studies Colloquium Series with LUIS GOMEZ
Friday, April 23, 2004
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
243 Royce Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan
The term "psychology" has been applied to Buddhism in a way that suggests a covert apologetic. This attempt to defend Buddhist traditions or to enhance their prestige, should be made explicit and allowed to be examined critically. In this presentation Professor Gomez will question the helpfulness and appropriateness of the implied parallelism. He will discuss several contemporary uses of the term "psychology" as descriptions of Buddhist ideas and practices, and argue for a more nuanced use of the parallelism, arguing that we should not dismiss the idea of understanding some aspects of Buddhist practice and speculation as "psychology," but will also caution against the facile and apologetic use of the term. Much scholarly research on Buddhism continues to be plagued by an antiseptic fear of admitting that Buddhists have experiences—personal, private and revealing. Yet, much of the semipopular and committed literature on Buddhism continues to evade issues of critical thought and empirical research. An outline of a balance will be drawn.
Luis Oscar Gómez Rodríguez is the Charles O. Hucker Collegiate Professor of Buddhist Studies, Professor of Religious Studies, and Professor of Psychology—Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. Gómez’s scholarly achievement have received international recognition, having served as the key-note speaker in a number of international symposia in Japan, India, Mexico, and the United States, and invited lectures in the same countries plus Spain, Canada, Taiwan, and Germany. His research interests include Indian Mahayana Buddhism, the early spread of Buddhism in Tibet, and Buddhist theories of self-cultivation. He is also interested in the Psychology of Religion and in the interface between psychotherapy, psychodynamic theory, and religious behaviors and experiences. Gómez has been described as "the only specialist on Buddhism in this country who has command of the Middle Indic background of Buddhist Sanskrit (the language of most Mahayana scriptural material). During a career spanning more than thirty years, Gómez has been continuously active in undergraduate and interdisciplinary teaching, and has guest-lectured in a variety of undergraduate courses taught by colleagues, he has also taught in both English and Spanish, and to audiences in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain, Japan, and the United States. And his commitment to graduate education is confirmed by his membership in the Rackham Executive Board and by the John D’Arms Graduate Mentorship Award he won in 1995.
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