A Bowen/Vipassanā Perspective on Societal Emotional Process

There is so much pain experienced after this election. Those who “lost” the election are experiencing fear, confusion, and depression, and at times ignorance of the dire situation that drove the “victors” to vote the way that they did. Those who “won” the election are so elated by their victory that they are at times ignoring the factors driving the intense fear in the opposition. In times of such unrest, it can help to work to understand the processes that created the situation in order to help us cope and influence these processes for the better. One way of understanding our political climate is through Bowen theory and lessons learned through the practice of vipassanā.

Continue Reading

Dissertation Topic: Bowen and Vipassanā

My idea for a dissertation topic is a conglomeration of ideas that make up my world view and personal psychology. It is an integration of what seems to be the most important forces governing our lives.

The idea is simple: to find a literary correlation showing that Murray Bowen was getting at the same thing as the historical Buddha. Bowen’s construct of differentiation of self in Family Systems Theory could equal the Buddha’s construct of equanimity in Vipassanā. If true, this could provide a key bridge between the science of the West and millennia of wisdom of the East. The implications are vast, and worthy of a book let alone a dissertation.

Continue Reading

On Death


I recently wrote a letter to a friend who is a medical resident working with people that are going to die. She said she was not completely comfortable with the idea yet.

Quite the tag line, huh? I couldn’t resist.

Funny enough, I arrived at my current incredibly positive take on death logically. I believe that life’s troubles are caused by an unhealthy relationship with things that are easily craved or averted, calling them unhealthy attachments. But, all attachments have a positive side. For example, a little beer makes you feel good but too much makes you feel bad. Craving beer when you aren’t getting it can also be a pain. But, none of that will change the fact that a little beer makes you feel good, which is GREAT!

In trying to find balance in my own life, I started to realize that being human simply means that you are stuck to an imperfect body. Things go wrong and it can kind of drag you down sometimes. There is definitely a “burden of life”, and through that down payment you get all of the wonderful things about life! (The “gift of life”) So, at the end of the day, our biggest and one most absolutely unavoidable attachment is the attachment to life itself – the deep connection between our soul and our body.

I have recently personally experienced some incredible releases of old attachments. The feeling of passing through critical doors that once seemed impossibly blocked is indescribable. When I think of death, I can’t help but think of how it comes with the release from the deepest attachment we will ever know.

It seems like there is a period of time just before a transition happens or an event ends where the mind accepts that the change is inevitable, and the release from the attachment begins. I feel this every race about 10-15% from the finish line. You can probably relate, the burden just gets lighter. I can’t imagine what that experience would be like when it comes to death.

“Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.”

– Tibetan Book of the Dead

What is really incredible to me is now this plays out in everyday life for you and me, just on a much smaller scale. That’s the magic.

Continue Reading