1st Edition

Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism A Realizational Perspective

By Paul C. Cooper Copyright 2023
    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    188 Pages
    by Routledge

    In this book, Cooper brings together psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism by offering a comprehensive and integrated model, described as "The Realizational Model", that is consistent with the core concepts of Soto Zen Buddhism and psychoanalytic practice.

    Focusing primarily on Soto Zen Buddhism as presented in the original writings of the Japanese scholar monk Eihei Dōgen (1200-1253), and supported and elaborated by relevant contemporary scholarship in relation to the writings of the British psychoanalyst, Wilfred Bion (1897-1979), this book addresses the issue of how can one understand, assimilate, and integrate conceptions of the human mind that originate in the 13th and 20th centuries, as they are visited and inflected by the unconscious preconceptions of a 21st-century perspective. Expressing authentic Buddhist tradition within the frame of psychoanalytic thinking, and supported by online guided audio meditations that accompany the text, this work offers a uniquely interdisciplinary perspective of invaluable clinical significance.

    Case material garnered from 35 years of psychoanalytic practice as well as examples from daily life support the abstract concepts discussed in the text, rendering it equally relevant for psychoanalysts and psychotherapists, as well as students of Zen wishing to explore its practical applications.

    Foreword by Robby Stein  Part One: Introduction  1. "No Fixed Point" An Introduction  2. The Primacy of Experience  3. Mokusho: Silent Illumination Open to Whole Being  Part Two: Review  4. Literature Review: Precursors  5. D.T. Suzuki and Dōgen  6. A Zen Wave: Review  Part Three: The Definite and the Infinite  7. Emptiness and Dependent Co-arising  8. Dōgen's Expression of Suchness  9. Bion's Use of "O" and "K"  Part Four: Realizational Perspectives  10. Assimilation and Accommodation  11. Bion and Dōgen: Realizational Practice, Emotional Truth  Part Five: Practice  12. Thinking's Bad Rap  13. Ada: A Clinical Study  14. Shikantaza: "Basic Fact of Sitting" Practice Session 


    Seiso Paul Cooper is a licensed and nationally certified psychoanalyst, ordained Soto Zen priest, and transmitted teacher in the Soto Zen lineage of Shunryu Suzuki and Dainin Katagiri. He is a member of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association and the American Zen Teacher’s Association. He is the cofounder and guiding teacher: Two Rivers Zen Community; founder: Realizational Practice Studies Group; former Dean of Training, National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis; faculty, training analyst, and supervisor: Institute for Expressive Analysis, Metropolitan Institute; a member of the editorial board: Psychoanalytic Review; and award-winning author: Zen Insight, Psychoanalytic Action: Two Arrows Meeting (2019) and The Zen Impulse and the Psychoanalytic Encounter (2010). He maintains a private psychoanalytic psychotherapy and supervision practice in Montpelier, Vermont. He has presented his work on Buddhism and Psychoanalysis internationally. He currently organizes, facilitates, and leads silent retreats in the formal Soto Zen style, especially tailored for mental health professionals both at retreat centers and online.

    ‘A valuable exploration of co-nourishing aspects of Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis, amplifying and adding to this growing field. It at once gives valuable critiques of work already done and opens further possibilities of being and experience. Seiso Cooper mediates and helps expand dimensions of growth that further open life.’

    Michael Eigen, author of Contact with the Depths, The Sensitive Self, and The Challenge of Being Human

    Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism is in a class by itself within the ever-expanding literature comparing Zen Buddhism and psychoanalytic thought. Cooper succinctly clarifies points of departure. He is consummately equipped to take the reader on a profound yet exciting journey into the depths. The reader comes away with an appreciation of the realizational perspective, while obtaining a nuanced understanding of Bion’s and Dogen’s inherent theoretical differences.’

    Melvin E. Miller, co-editor of Self and No-self: Continuing the Dialogue Between Buddhism and Psychotherapy, psychoanalyst in private practice, Montpelier, Vermont, USA

    ‘Seiso Paul Cooper uses an experiential voice to illuminate how sitting in silence common to both Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis engenders clarity in the present. He addresses with erudite skill the misunderstanding and misuse of what Zen practice has come to mean in western thought. By returning to the sources of zazen, misconceptions of both theory and practice are reset and contextualized. Here lies the way of "unknowing," an essential state of mind to both awakening and emotional change.’

    Robby Stein, Bion videographer, Tavistock-trained child psychotherapist