In ancient China, a revered Taoist sage named Zhuangzi told many parables. In Existential Psychology and the Way of the Tao, a selection of these parables will be featured. Following each parable, an eminent existential psychologist will share a personal and scholarly reflection on the meaning and relevance of the parable for psychotherapy and contemporary life. The major tenets of Zhuangzi's philosophy are featured. Taoist concepts of emptiness, stillness, Wu Wei (i.e. intentional non-intentionality), epistemology, dreams and the nature of reality, character building in the midst of pain, meaning and the centrality of relationships, authenticity, self-care, the freedom that can come from one's willingness to confront death, spiritual freedom, and gradations of therapeutic care are topics highlighted in this book.
“In ways not unlike Alan Watts' Psychotherapy East and West, this diverse collection of essays, expertly edited by Dr. Yang, demonstrates the inherent philosophical intersection existing between ancient Taoism and the improvisational practice of contemporary existential therapy, offering an alternative view of how clinicians can more creatively and effectively encourage clients or patients to find their own way in life. The philosophically informed clinical wisdom of existential therapy, like the profound spiritual wisdom of Taoism, provides a timely, much-needed corrective counterbalance to the alarmingly lopsided and dangerous trend in psychotherapy today.”—Stephen A. Diamond, PhD, author, Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity
“This remarkable book applies the wisdom of two Chinese sages to contemporary psychotherapy, especially existentially-oriented approaches. The result is an original synthesis that spans time and place to provide novel perspectives that will enrich the therapeutic encounter and enhance its effectiveness.”—Stanley Krippner, PhD, professor of psychology, Saybrook University
“In today’s rapidly interconnected world, it is essential that scholars try to understand and learn from each other’s cultures. In Existential Psychology and the Way of the Tao: Meditations on the Writings of Zhuangzi, psychologist Mark Yang has done just that. As a dual resident of both China and the United States, Dr. Yang is able to relate Western existential psychology to Taoist concepts, and translate this understanding into clear clinical applications. His respect for ancient indigenous philosophies aligned with Western psychology makes a valuable contribution to the international practice of psychology.”—Ilene A. Serlin, PhD, BC-DMT, fellow, past-president, Society for Humanistic Studies of the American Psychological Association; associated distinguished professor of integral and transpersonal psychology, California Institute of Integral Studies; editorial board, The Humanistic Psychologist and the Journal of Humanistic Psychology
Foreword List of Contributors Preface Acknowledgements Overview of the Book Chapter Introductions Part I. Emptiness, Stillness, and Wu Wei 1. The Useless Tree and the Empty Gourd Mark C Yang 2. Wu Wei (無爲/无为) Jason Dias 3.Steadiness in the Midst of Chaos Michael Moats Part II. Knowledge and Epistemology 4. Humanity’s Search for Meaning in Existence: A Taoist Epistemology Rodger E. Broomé 5. Knowledge and Psychotherapy: Lessons from Zhuangzi’s Parable When Knowledge Went North Trent Claypool Part III. Miscellaneous Chapters 6. On the Power of Butterflies: Dreaming, Waking, and the Therapeutic Potential of Nocturnal Beings Erik Craig 7. Master Hui’s Grave: To Sharpen Your Character, Rub It Up Against Something Abrasive Richard Bargdill 8. Releasing the Jade, Grasping Meaning Louis Hoffman 9. Dragging My Tail in the Mud: Personal Reflections on Authenticity David N. Elkins 10. Plough Deeply: Cultivating Authentic Living Jennifer Tam 11. Usefulness of Uselessness: Freedom Before Death Shiyan Zheng (Translated by Lihua Yang) Part IV. Autuman Floods 12. Along the Way to Spiritual Freedom: From Rivers to Seas and Heaven to Tao Yang Shaogang and Li Yun 13. The Enlightenment of Autumn Floods Wu Fei (Translated by Doreen Deng) 14. Can You Tell A Dragon Fly About Ice? Implications of Zhuangzi’s “Relative Gradations” for Therapeutic Care Todd DuBose