a tibetan woman sharing her story, along with stories of other tibetan women who are addressing social concerns for the greater good of humanity’s struggle to create a just and kind world, is kunsang dolma. i applaud her courage.
Excerpt from the Prajnaparamita Sutra – The Mother of All Buddhas
SARIPUTRA: This Perfection of Wisdom, O radiant Lord, is none other than the total awakeness which is omniscience.
LORD BUDDHA: So it is, noble Sariputra, precisely as you say.
SARIPUTRA: The Perfection of Wisdom shines forth as a sublime light, 0 Buddha nature. I sing this spontaneous hymn of light to praise Mother Prajnaparamita. She is worthy of infinite praise. She is utterly unstained, because nothing in this insubstantial world can possibly stain her. She is an ever-flowing fountain of incomparable light, and from every conscious being on every plane, she removes the faintest trace of illusory darkness. She leads living beings into her clear light from the blindness and obscurity caused by moral and spiritual impurity as well as by partial or distorted views of Reality. In her alone can we find true refuge. Sublime and excellent are her revelations through all persons of wisdom. She inspires and guides us to seek the safety and certainty of the bright wings of enlightenment. She pours forth her nectar of healing light to those who have made themselves appear blind. She provides the illumination through which all fear and despair can be utterly renounced.
She manifests the five mystic eyes of wisdom, the vision and penetration of each one more exalted than the last. She clearly and constantly points out the path of wisdom to every conscious being with the direct pointing that is her transmission and empowerment. She is an infinite eye of wisdom. She dissipates entirely the mental gloom of delusion. She does not manipulate any structures of relativity. Simply by shining spontaneously, she guides to the spiritual path whatever beings have wandered into dangerous, negative, self-centered ways.
Mother Prajnaparamita is total awakeness. She never substantially creates any limited structure because she experiences none of the tendencies of living beings to grasp, project or conceptualize. Neither does she substantially dismantle or destroy any limited structure, for she encounters no solid limits. She is the Perfect Wisdom which never comes into being and therefore never goes out of being. She is known as the Great Mother by those spiritually mature beings who dedicate their mind streams to the liberation and full enlightenment of all that lives.
She is not marked by fundamental characteristics. This absence of characteristics is her transcendent, mystic motherhood, the radiant blackness of her womb. She is the universal benefactress who presents, as a sublime offering to truth, the limitless jewel of all Buddha qualities, the miraculous gem which generates the ten inconceivable powers of a Buddha to elevate living beings into consciousness of their innate Buddha nature. She can never be defeated in any way, on any level. She lovingly protects vulnerable conscious beings who cannot protect themselves, gradually generating in them unshakable fearlessness and diamond confidence. She is the perfect antidote to the poisonous view which affirms the cycle of birth and death to be a substantial reality. She is the clear knowledge of the open and transparent mode of being shared by all relative structures and events. Her transcendent knowing never wavers. She is the Perfect Wisdom who gives birthless birth to all Buddhas. And through these sublimely Awakened Ones, it is Mother Prajnaparamita alone who turns the wheel of true teaching.
LORD BUDDHA: Precisely so, beloved Sariputra.
On February 10, 2014, a friend and I attended the Human Trafficking Open House in Pittsburgh that was sponsored by the Western Pennsylvania Human Trafficking Coalition held at the Andy Warhol Museum.
It was great to witness the turn out. The auditorium was packed, many had to stand along the side isles and in the back while the presenters did a great job informing us of the progress that has been made over the past year. Newcomers to the Coalition, such as my friend, learned a great deal about the reality of human trafficking, what it is, and what is being done nationally as well as in Pittsburgh.
A documentary that was aired on WQED on January 23, 2014 entitled Human Trafficking: Pittsburgh Fights Back was presented. To view it for free, click here.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an excellent article on February 8, 2014 that shed light on human trafficking in Pittsburgh, as well as offering information for those who may want to attend the Open House. The article Human trafficking: modern-day slavery can be found here.
As a member of the Coalition, I am encouraged by the turn out! For those on Facebook please view The Project to End Human Trafficking page and Like.
Raising awareness sheds light on the darkness in the corners of Pittsburgh!
Get involved if you can!
It is my pleasure to share that I am a recipient of Outstanding Woman in Buddhism Award 2014 for my “contribution to women and to Buddhism by propagating the Buddha-Dharma, working for peace, and protecting women’s rights.” The ceremony is being held in Thailand.
Unfortunately, due to a 60 day State of Emergency issued by the Thailand government a couple of weeks ago, we have determined, with sincere regret, that it would not be wise to travel to the award ceremony as planned. The award committee said that they will honor me and my work on March 7th at the event in Thailand even though I will not be present. (The news article re the political unrest is here )
The following quote offers details about the award:
“The Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards, held in conjunction with the United Nations’ International Women’s Day, are held annually to recognise the accomplishments and celebrate the acts of courage and determination of Buddhist women across the globe in promoting positive social changes, e.g. propagating the Buddha dharma, carrying out social work, peace activism, community development and spiritual practice. The award recipients are selected by a panel of Buddhist scholars and practitioners and supported by the International Women’s Meditation Center Foundation. The awards are the brainchild of two Buddhist nuns, Thai Bhikkhuni Rattanavali and American Bhikkhuni Dr. Lee, who wanted to develop an award in honor of Buddhist women’s accomplishments on the United Nations’ International Women’s Day, which falls on 8 March each year. Subsequently, they established the Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards Organisation which began conferring awards to worthy recipients since 2002.
“In 2006, HRH Princess Dechen Wangmo Wangchuck of Bhutan received the same award for her contribution towards religious education and the needy in Bhutan. Other notable past award recipients include Princess Norodom Morinen of Cambodia (2006), Bhikshuni Dharma Master Cheng Yen, founder of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, Taiwan (2002): and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar (2005).
“Other Vajrayana Buddhist practitioners who received the award in the past are Bhikshuni Thubten Chödron from the USA (2002), Bhikshuni Karma Lekshe Tsomo, (USA, 2004), Bhikshuni Jampa Tsedroen, Germany (2007), Bhikshuni Pema Chodron (USA, 2008), Rinchen Khando Choegyal, India (2009), Lama Tsultrim Allione (US, 2009), Dr. Krisadawan Hongladarom, Thailand (2009), Sramaneri Dr. Tashi Choedron, Malaysia (2010) and Sabine-Hayoz-Kalff, Switzerland (2012)… Venerable Tenzin Dadon (Sonam Wangmo), 34 from Zhemgang, Bhutan received the award for her contribution to Vajrayana Buddhism, especially Buddhist women in the Himalayan region. Also honoured at this year’s awards ceremony was the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, renowned Buddhist scholar and activist Prof. Dr. Hema Gunatilake from Sri Lanka and Buddhist nuns and laywomen from Austria, Taiwan, Thailand, and Switzerland. ” (Woman Renunciants blog)
In 2009 Venerable Dr. Pannavati from the USA received the award which gave rise to furthering her pro-active work in relation to assisting nuns and women in Thailand, India, and Cambodia, as well as within the USA. Additional recipients from the USA that year include Lama Tsultrim Allione, Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts, Susan Pembroke, Carol Gansho O’Dowd, and Jan Willis (News clip here).
Recently while organizing a few writings, fond memories of my colleagues and our research at Duquesne University (1993-1995) arose. I am grateful for the opportunity to have known, and have studied under, Rev. Dr. Adrian van Kaam, as well as to have earned a masters degree in the fields of research that he initiated.
Professor Adrian van Kaam initiated the Psychology Department, as well as the Institute of Formative Spirituality, at Duquesne University. His Formation Science program benefited many, inclusive of myself.
Formative Spirituality at Duquesne University was an international, ecumenical, and trans-faith Graduate program. I had colleagues from the USA, Europe, China, Australia, Philippines, Africa, Ireland, Scotland, and elsewhere. In pursuing the two year Masters Degree, I studied the theory as well as the application (practicums in spiritual direction and formative/narrative counseling). It is a degree that benefits those who offer therapeutic counseling and spiritual direction within the religious, educational, and mental health fields.
It was within this program that I was introduced to No Boundary, by Wilber, as one of the required course texts with Professor John Kloepfer. This began my personal research into most of the writings of Wilber. Wilber’s quadrant system in light of van Kaam’s formation field system offers interesting considerations.
I had the opportunity to participate in facilitating retreats with Fr van Kaam a few times – knowing him beyond classroom settings. I respected him as not only a genius scholar and lecturer, but as a human being who manifested as a kind, joyful, humble and compassionate man.
The following article by Elliot Benjamin within integralworld.net offers a significant tribute to Rev. Dr. Adrian van Kaam:
“NOTE: This article is reprinted from the August/September 2010 AHP Perspective magazine, published by the Association of Humanistic Psychology, ahpweb.org, under the title: “The Missing Link in Ken Wilber’s Integral Psychology: Adrian van Kaam”.
In Ken Wilber’s introductory Note to the Reader in his book Integral Psychology (Wilber, 2000), he paid historical tribute to a few individuals who made attempts at formulating a predecessor to integral psychology. These individuals include James Mark Baldwin, William James, and most especially Gustav Fechner. As Wilber concluded about Fechner, who did his work in the early and mid 1800s:
“Fechner’s approach to psychology was thus a type of integral approach: he wished to use empirical and scientific measurement, not to deny soul and spirit, but to help elucidate them.” (Wilber, 2000, p. xi).
Wilber summarized the contributions of Fechner, James, and Baldwin, which ended with the death of Baldwin in 1934, as follows:
“These pioneering modern psychologists managed to be both fully scientific and fully spiritual, and they found not the slightest contradiction or difficulty in that generous embrace.” (Wilber, 2000, p. xi).
In a later chapter of Wilber’s book, entitled Some Important Modern Pioneers, he pays tribute to three additional figures who made preliminary integral psychology contributions primarily in the early and mid 1900s: Jurgen Habermas, Sri Aurobindo, and Abraham Maslow (Wilber, 2000, pp. 82 – 85). However, I contend that Wilber missed perhaps the most noteworthy of all the integral psychology predecessors, who had been highly active and visible in the fields of psychology and philosophy for over a half century and who died just a few years ago; I am referring to the Dutch psychologist, philosopher, theologian: Adrian van Kaam.
In van Kaam’s (1966) book Existential Foundations of Psychology, he passionately argued for the formulation of what he referred to as “comprehensive psychology.” He developed his ideas into a discipline that he called “anthropological psychology,” which he described as “an open, personal, progressive integration of historical and contemporary psychological knowledge” (van Kaam, 1966, p. 166).
However, in some fundamental ways, van Kaam’s formulation of a comprehensive psychology appears to me to go deeper than Wilber’s integral psychology, as van Kaam’s view of psychology has tremendous scope, inclusive of “the study of the self-image expressed in cultural endeavors other than psychology, such as art, literature, social customs, language, philosophy, science, education, and patterns of worship.” (van Kaam, 1966, p. 160). In a foreshadowing of Wilber’s later integral attempt to unite opposing theories of psychology, which Wilber initiated in his very first book The Spectrum of Consciousness (Wilber, 1977) and developed in his book Integral Psychology (Wilber, 2000), van Kaam said the following:
The integration of seemingly opposed constructs requires the continual shaping and reshaping of a theoretical model in its structure and substructures. This constant change in theoretical vision enables the psychologist to comprehend with inner consistency the ever-increasing number of phenomena and laws uncovered by the growing number of differential psychologies. (van Kaam, 1966, p. 161).
Van Kaam appeared to have a non-egotistical approach to integrating all the diverse psychologies that were prevalent when he was formulating his ideas. This may represent a significant contrast to the personal ego involvement that a number of authors have claimed Wilber exhibits. For example, Daryl Paulsen in his (2007) Journal of Humanistic Psychology article entitled “Wilber’s Integral Philosophy: A Summary and Critique”, said the following:
First, for Wilber there is nothing beyond Wilber. As one studies Wilber’s writings it becomes apparent that Wilber believes everyone is partially right, but he is more right. Although he incorporates others’ works, they are always reduced to a component in his system, not the other way around. (Paulsen, p. 381).
Van Kaam’s use of the term “existential” is quite different from our present day meanings we give to the term, and was also quite different from the dominant meanings of the term in the mid 1900s. As van Kaam wrote in the 1983 Forward to his (1966) book Existential Foundations of Psychology:
The book became a plea to widen existential psychology to a universal anthropological psychology, sufficiently foundational to integrate objectively on a scientific basis all validated findings and insights of the various “differential” psychologies, covering both the subjective experiential and the measurable aspects of human life. (van Kaam, pp. xi – xii).
Van Kaam eventually broadened his comprehensive and anthropological psychology into what he referred to as Formative Spirituality and established the Institute of Formative Spirituality to study “the scientific integration of formationally relevant findings and insights of different arts, sciences and formation traditions” (van Kaam, 1966, p. xii…).
In discovering the integral writings of Adrian van Kaam, who has written over 75 books and 360 articles (Muto & Martin 2009), I was quite struck by the similarities in outlook and perspective on psychology between him and Ken Wilber. This similarity is inclusive even of van Kaam’s establishment of an organization whose explicit purpose was to explore the integration of virtually all facets of life. Although Van Kaam was coming from a universal Catholic religious perspective (see here and Muto & Martin, 2009), his intensive focus on integrating diverse psychologies sounds quite similar to me to the basic premise of Wilber’s Integral Institute organization.
In my opinion, it would have been interesting, appropriate, and academically respectful for Wilber to acknowledge the integral contributions of Adrian van Kaam along with Fechner, James, Baldwin, and the others who Wilber respectfully acknowledged in his informal history of the precursors of integral psychology. Van Kaam’s Institute of Formative Spirituality was in full force when Wilber wrote his first book The Spectrum of Consciousness (Wilber, 1977), but I do not recall any mention of van Kaam in any of Wilber’s books, and I have read nearly all of them. This is not to take away from what I believe is an enormous contribution that Wilber has made to psychology and to philosophy in his integral approach. But I contend that there is a missing link in how Wilber has portrayed the development of integral psychology, and I believe that acknowledgement and respect should be given to Adrian van Kaam for the significant role that he played in the integral scheme of things.
When van Kaam developed his ideas about anthropological psychology in the mid 1900s, the world of psychology was torn apart between Rogers’ client centered therapy and Skinner’s behaviorism. Neo-Freudian and Jungian psychodynamic theories were also prominent at this time, and I believe that van Kaam had a deep and far reaching perspective to “integrate” (see Benjamin, 2007) all these diverse psychologies that he referred to as “differential” psychologies. Van Kaam also wrote about extending the strict quantitative experimental classification of what science is, allowing for non-quantitative phenomenological explorations of experience, which has been gradually increasing in acceptance by the scientific mainstream in the context of qualitative science (Creswell, 2007, Moustakas, 1994). For all these reasons, I consider Adrian van Kaam to be the “missing link” of integral psychology, and this brief article pays tribute to him for his unacknowledged role in the formation of Ken Wilber’s integral psychology.
Benjamin, E. (2007). Integral vs. integative. Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://www.integralworld.net
Creswell, J. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design. London: Sage.
Muto, S. A., & Martin, F. (2009). Portrait of Adrian van Kaam and Humanistic Psychology. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 49(3), 355-375.
Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Paulsen, D. (2007). Wilber’s integral philosophy: A summary and critique. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 48(3), 364-388.
Van Kaam, A. (1966). Existential foundations of psychology. New York: Lanham.
Wilber, K. (1977). The spectrum of consciousness. Wheaton, Ill. Quest Books.
Wilber, K. (2000). Integral psychology: Consciousness, spirit, psychology, therapy.Boston: Shambhala.