A Psychoanalytic View of the Sangha: Group Functioning in Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism
Keywords:Psychoanalysis, Buddhism, Object Relations, Sangha, Group Psychology
The goal of Buddhism is to gain enlightenment through the realization of the psychological basis of human suffering. Like other religions Buddhists undertake this goal together in a community known as the Sangha, which, includes lay practitioners, clergy, and various symbolic figures. While, the ostensible goal of the Sangha is to help Buddhists reach a state of religious epiphany, it also functions in a psychological fashion to moderate the regressive effects of group membership. This moderation allows the Sangha to facilitate individuation for its members while they maintain their group membership. In this way the Sangha provides a practical method for applying spiritual principals to relationships with others in the group and later, to the world at large. This paper will review classical and object relations views of group psychology and then apply these perspectives to the understanding of the Sangha.
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