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Suffering and Happiness: From Buddhism to Modern Psychology

Hobrechtstraße 66 Berlin, 12047


Satisfaction always seems to be just around the corner, but we turn each corner only to find that it has fled yet again. Buddhism addresses questions like, Why do people suffer? Why do we all feel anxiety, anger, and sadness? Both the Buddha and Freud came to the idea that the mind is mostly unconscious and that important decisions are made “for us” by this invisible controller. Only in recent decades have their insights been demonstrated by neuroscientific and psychological research.

In this seminar, we will draw comparisons between Buddhism and the foundational insights of psychology. We will explore these ideas in the context of popular culture, highlighting relevant research findings that support or discredit them. No background in Buddhism or psychology is required.

Thursdays (July 27; August 3, 10, and 17), 19:00 – 20:30

1. Thursday, July 27
The Root of Suffering is Attachment
Human development according to Buddhism and to Attachment Theory

This is a quote from the Discourses of the Buddha. Buddhism is focused on non-attachment, the idea of letting go of craving and clinging. Attachment theory puts the bond with parents, and later on significant others, in the center of human development. The two definitions seem to contradict, and propose completely different paths to well-being. We will discuss how both theories relate to personal experiences and see if there is a better path.

2. Thursday, August 3
The Search for Satisfaction
Perspectives in evolutionary psychology

The first of the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism is that life is suffering, the second is that nothing ever lasts. What did the Buddha understand about evolution, long before Darwin? We will present how evolutionary psychologist look for satisfaction and then ask: is this search in vain? And if so, why do we seem to be invested in it? 

3. Thursday, August 10
Ego versus The Self
How our mind works according to Buddha and Freud

Buddha and Freud, the founders of both disciplines tried to find a way to relieve human suffering. In their life’s work, both came to realize that there is an unconscious mind that for the most part is “running the show”. We will explain and demonstrate how our mind works according to both theories.

4. Thursday, August 17
Delusions and Mind Tricks
The illusions that control us

The Buddha claimed that the world we perceive is an illusion, and moreover that our concept of ourselves is an illusion. Years later, cognitive psychologists managed to map out many of the illusions that control the things we see and hear, and even the things that we think and feel. Will understanding these illusions free our minds?

Facilitated by Ori Yadlin, clinical psychologist and yoga practitioner writing a doctoral dissertation on attachment, mindfulness, and perception.

Illustrations are made by Alessandro Gottardo.

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