When we look at the world of psychology, there’s an integrating Eastern philosophy into Western psychology. Through the counterculture of the beatniks in 1960’s, Asian practices are becoming increasingly prevalent such as: acupuncture, holistic medicine, Tai Chi yoga, and meditation are just a few of the Eastern practices gaining popularity in Western culture. Western psychology and Eastern philosophy have a mutual concern with liberating human beings from self-contradiction in thinking, feeling, experiencing, and acting. Thousands of years ago, Tao philosophy has been practicing their focus on wu wei, the none action approach as an effective solution to a problem achieved by patiently waiting for nature to present a solution, because nothing is accomplished by creating nonexistent difficulties or responding with overly elaborate measures. You don’t have to be a psychologist to be able to write “self-help” books as long as you understand human nature by being aware of your existence and the equilibrium of the universe. Western psychology integrated this brilliant Eastern philosophy into many of their coping techniques programs. Let’s take a look and see the similarities! Tao Te Ching said: “Whoever can see through all fear will always be safe” suggests us to face our fear which is significant concept of facing the reality. Acceptance is key for enlightenment as Lao Tzu said: “Accept yourself, Non-acceptance is the root of all trouble”; your reality is your existence so accept and do not fight against yourself. Lao Tzu not only said: ” Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished” but also said that “ Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?” Using our intuition of the principles of universal structure is the utmost importance in Eastern philosophy. It teaches us that there is no need to control but just float with the current and give it time for situations to calm down while being gentle on yourself. The Taoist has an acceptance of reality because he believes the world is initiated by the interactions of opposites. The apparent and the potential are complementary, and constant change is expected. He possesses the ability to cope as his tolerance and inner strength allows him to see the possibilities for action without taking any of them to unnatural extreme. Clearly, you can see the similarity between Taoism which already began 400 B.C. and Western psychotherapy (particularly cognitive behavioral therapy). All plain and simple, goal cannot be achieved through purposeful actions and experiencing Tao is not about striving for what is not, but about acknowledging all that is present, in the Now, through non-action.
With respect to mental health, from a Taoist perspective, depressed individuals often seek some way to counter the sadness they feel by finding something to hold on to. They try to capture the truth, reality, or life in an effort to experience comfort and security. But it is in this search for fulfillment that one eventually realizes that nothing is ever secure enough. This results in a sense of hopelessness, which has been cited as one of the strongest predictor of suicide. In that moment, a person simultaneously experiences the anxiety of being and possibility of nonbeing. Depressed individuals often polarize the two, favoring one and disliking the other. This process is equivalent to Albert Ellis’s “all or nothing” thinking error. Experiences are either good or bad, and one tries to remove all that which does not fit into the concept of ideal life. But through such a process of discrimination one is removed from Tao. Whenever we try to get where we think we should be, or avoid what we think we ought to, we move away from our true selves. By cognitively removing all the negatively perceived aspects, authenticity is denied. As a matter of fact, it is neither of the body nor of the mind, it is of the total and the total transcends all parts. The total is not just a composition, a composition of the parts. It is something beyond the parts. It is something that holds all the parts into itself. It is a transcendence. You may be physically healthy, you may be psychologically healthy, but you may not be existentially healthy at all. On the contrary, when you are psychologically and physically healthy, for the first time you become aware of the existential anxiety, of the anguish inside. First he has to look after the body, and then he will think. Then he has to look after the mind, and then he will think. Body and mind, if healthy, will allow you for the first time to be really in trouble. And that trouble will be spiritual.
East is a standpoint and West is also a standpoint; it is not about geography. ‘West’ is a way of looking at things, ‘East’ is also a way of looking at things. When East looks at things it looks at the total, and when West looks at things it always looks at the part. The Western attitude is analytical so it analyzes. The Eastern attitude is synthetic so it synthesizes, it tries to find the one in the many. The Western attitude tries to find the many in the one. The Western attitude has become very efficient in analyzing, dissecting, taking things apart. The West really does not know what self-realization is, so anything becomes a self-realization. The West is not aware of what self-realization means. It means such an absolute silence that it cannot be disturbed by anything. Such absolute nonbeing; how can possessiveness, ambition, jealousy exist in it? With a no mind, how can you dominate, how can you try to dominate? Self realization means the complete disappearance of the ego. And with the ego, everything disappears. Western psychology up to now has not come to the point of non-ego. It is still thinking in terms of the ego: how to make the ego more strongly rooted, centered; how to make the ego more healthy, normal, adjusted. The East takes the ego itself as the disease; the whole mind is the disease. There is no choice about it; conscious and unconscious both have to go. They have to go and that’s why the East has not tried to interpret. Because if something has to go, why bother about its interpretation? Why waste time? It can be dropped. Look at the difference: the West is somehow trying to make an adjustment between the conscious and the unconscious and strengthen the ego, so that you become a more adjusted member of society, and also a more adjusted individual inside. With the rift bridged, you will be more at ease with the mind. The East has been trying to drop the mind, to go beyond it. It is not a question of adjustment to the society, it is a question of adjustment to existence itself. It is not a question of an adjustment between the conscious and unconscious, it is a question of the adjustment of all the parts that constitute your whole being. Eastern philosophy is spirituality’s approach to changing man. Western psychology’s aim is to fortify the individual’s ego so that he may become less neurotic, slightly happier and ultimately function ‘better’ in society. In the East, the goal is instead to dissolve the ego rather than strengthen it. The locked door is the ego, the key is meditation, and that outside is liberation from the self, spiritual freedom and self realization (enlightenment). Self realization is coming to no-self, coming to an absolute emptiness within, coming to the point where you are not. The drop has dissolved into the ocean and only the ocean exists.The house is empty, there is nobody. Losing of the ego and becoming enlightened is to being a rain drop that falls into the ocean – both become simply water, there is no separation.❤️