We tend to think of modern psychology as the study of human mind. We think of psychology as a modern invention a new tool created by modern science with which to understand the of mind and its workings. But it is useful to recognize that Western psychological theories have their roots in European and American science and culture. We tend to forget that our theories are not scientific fact but culture-bound theory. (A cursory reading of Western psychology's understanding of emotions will show a wide range od diverse and contradictory theories.)
Buddhism and the Buddhist psychology that is at the core of Buddhist views of human nature include a theory of mind and its workings and that is deeply sophisticated. When we read Buddhist psychology and its attempts to deal with human emotions we are able to see modern psychology in the context of thousands-of-years old project to understand the human mind .
In this lesson we will explore the Tibetan Buddhist psychological teachings on the mind, with a focus on emotion.
(Note: The primary source for this lesson is Matthew Ricard's presentation of "A Buddhist Psychology" at the 2000 Mind and Life conference, presented in Chapter 4 of Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue With the Dalai Lama, edited by Daniel Goleman.)