Going to Pieces without Falling Apart: A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
For decades, Western psychology has promised fulfillment through building and strengthening the ego. We are taught that the ideal is a strong, individuated self, constructed and reinforced over a lifetime. But Buddhist psychiatrist Mark Epstein has found a different way.
Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart shows us that happiness doesn't come from any kind of acquisitiveness, be it material or psychological. Happiness comes from letting go. Weaving together the accumulated wisdom of his two worlds--Buddhism and Western psychotherapy--Epstein shows how "the happiness that we seek depends on our ability to balance the ego's need to do with our inherent capacity to be." He encourages us to relax the ever-vigilant mind in order to experience the freedom that comes only from relinquishing control.
Drawing on events in his own life and stories from his patients, Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart teaches us that only by letting go can we start on the path to a more peaceful and spiritually satisfying life.
I could relate to Marilyn’s predicament, and to her solution. When I was in elementary school, I developed something of a stammer, especially when I had to introduce myself or say my own name. My anticipation of having to speak, like Marilyn’s anticipation of having to jump, created such a reaction within me that I became immobilized. My parents finally took me to a speech therapist, a kindly gray-haired woman named Mrs. Stanton whose musty office I remember was up a long and dusty flight of
only did they not know what they were feeling, but they had remarkably little idea of what feelings even were. They had no vocabulary for their emotions. Reacting with fear every time certain physical or emotional sensations became prominent, it was as if they were phobic toward their own feelings. Only when they went back to the beginning and learned the basics of what emotions actually are—what we call “mad, sad, and glad”—could they develop the capacity to tolerate feelings. Psychoanalysis
bring the bliss of orgasm to bear on the everyday world. For Joe, neither of these lofty goals were achievable because of his inability to get through the outer doorway. He could not approach the copulating figures at the center without getting derailed by his own resentment. The metaphoric goddesses were not letting him pass. While I never used the mandala imagery directly with Joe, I did focus attention on his anger and resentment. Joe was letting his anger get in the way of his ultimate
treating such feelings as enemies to be defeated, both require learning how to summon, tie, bind, and intoxicate like the goddesses at the temple doors. While I was working with Joe on passing through the doorways of the temple goddesses, my son had a dream of being mauled by a huge tiger. He woke up his sister and she comforted him, and he told me about it the next morning as I was getting myself ready for an appointment with Joe. “Try making friends with that tiger,” I suggested offhandedly
enlightenment?” At this point, the old man simply dropped his bundle onto the ground. Just like that, the monk was enlightened. In an instant he, too, had put down his whole defensive organization, the entire burden. But the newly awakened monk was still a bit confused. “Now what?” he asked Manjushri. And the boddhisattva, smiling, silently reached down, picked up his bundle, and continued down the path.8 Putting down our burdens does not mean forsaking the conventional world in which our