Sat, 19 Jun 2021 Today's Paper

Towards a Buddhist Theory of Mental Illness

15 December 2013 07:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A A A

The Buddha’s philosophy and religion is mainly concerned about the well-being of human beings. His main sermon is on the Four Noble Truths. Here the Buddha deals with the problem of human sufferings and how they could be eliminated. His entire effort was directed towards finding a way out of suffering. To the Buddha life in its various aspects means conditions such as sickness, worry, death, happiness, gain, ecstasy, joy etc. His diagnosis was - that every aspects of life is suffering, that it is subject to suffering, that it is impermanent.  

The Buddha illuminates this still further by explaining the cause of suffering. He attributes it to ignorance and craving.  The course of treatment for this is given in the Noble Eightfold path.
His most meaningful message is his theory of Dependent Origination which simply states that suffering  occurs because it  is caused. Thus anyone who wants to avoid undesirable action must remove the relevant causes.
Further in his explanation of the Theory of Karma he gives an account of how behaviour occurs in man. His concept of mind as suffering is very relevent in understanding the origin of suffering and ill-will. The mind gives an explanation of the origin and cause of internal human conflict, called suffering. The Buddha also deals with deviations from the normal with disordered behaviour caused by mental illness and with suggestive treatment to bring the abnormal back to normal.

Thus Buddhism is exclusively devoted to the mental process in its normal and abnormal functioning and to the rectification of such abnormalities by means of analysis and research into the causes and contributory conditions. The Buddha found solutions to the mental problems  causing psychological conflicts.
His explanation of Karma, gives a lucid account of how thought occurs in man. It is at the end of a process, beginning in the behaviour of matter, observed in the senses, responded to in perception formulated in a concept and finally grasped in consciousness. Thus it is at the end of a fivefold process of grasping by thought that the picture is complete with the assistance of objective material for contact of sense-organs for feeling, of the nervous reactionary system for perception, of formulating and elective ideation, for concepts of comprehensive awareness for understanding. Adherence to the Eightfold path and the Five precepts and the Snapping of the Ten Fetters are so important because of the law of cause and effect that rules the universal law of cause and effect and a reaction. Every action produces an effect and a reaction.
Human action according to the Buddha forms on the energy of karma.
  • According to the seeds sown
  • So is the fruit you reap there from
  • Doer of good will gather good
  • Doer of evil, evil reaps
  • Sown in the seed, and then shall taste
  • The fruits thereof

Human behaviour as the expression of emotion can provide data for analysis of mental ailments.
The sixfold analysis of thecharacter of greed, hate, delusion and their opposites are the empirical evidence of human behaviour. The mental disorders originate in subjects, perceptions and thoughts. Today it is estimated that any human being will break down under the conditions of modern warfare if the strain of the conflict of duty and fear is continued long enough. Mental strain therefore can lead to mental illness.

The chief hallucination or delusion of self as an entity of soul, is the very basis of all behaviour. Whether it is lust, hate or ignorance. His theory that all is void of self, demolishes the foundation of the entire stronghold of self delusion, and then in the absence of a self there in no more conflict but the ending of strife, the cessation of becoming.

In this doctrine, the mind is one of the sense organs. This explains the causes of mental illness and the way of remedying it. Meditation is a method of cleansing our minds, so that in a state of serenity, one may truly apprehend the true and the real. Day and night, in sleep and in wakefulness, the mind is in a turmoil of thought, emotions, desires, loves, worries and hatred. There are desires for the attainments of ambition for money, and for popularity. Sensual thoughts sweep in thoughts of foods and sex and physical comfort and bombardsone’s mind. There come fear for the future, regrets for the past. Thus the form of thought and emotion moves onwards. Rarely is the mind of a person clear and tidy. The mind is too crowded with invading thoughts and emotions which dance around in useless confusion. This mind that is not well disciplined can be the breeding ground for unhealthy mental thoughts. These thoughts can be of many sorts. Wild, irrational, unwieldy, depending on the conditioning process that had been at work from birth. This is Karmic Action.

The Buddhist mindfulness and concentration and general mind training techniques produce an alertness and insight that must advance the layman on his worldly career. The Buddha states what good neither mother nor father nor any other kinsman can do to a man, a well directed mind does to him and thereby enables him. In higher meditation there is a systematic state which gives our supreme and all-comprehensive wisdom and insight. The four sublime moods-live, compassion, serenity, equanimity are achieved through other meditation techniques. The Buddha advises mentally-effected patients to practise a sound  sort of meditation, before they subject themselves to any of the orthodox methods of treatment. In meditation a certain state is arrived at when it cuts off the flow of stimuli from the senses to the brain, halting unwholesome thoughts. The heart and the entire physical organization relax. This is the case of those who are mentally ill. The Buddha’s main thesis is a “Do good, avoid all evil, purify your mind”. The Buddha says “There are many kinds of medicine, natural medicines that do no harm, but I prescribe the most effective medicines of all. Bhavana Mind Culture”

"Thus Buddhism is exclusively devoted to the mental process in its normal and abnormal functioning and to the rectification of such abnormalities by means of analysis and research into the causes and contributory conditions. The Buddha found solutions of the mental problems  causing psychological conflicts. His explanation or Karma, gives a lucid account of how thought occurs in man. It is at the end of a process, beginning in the behaviour of matter, observed in the senses, responded to in perception formulated in a concept and finally grasped in consciousness"


The Buddha said there is hardly any difference between the sane and the insane. According to the Buddha there are two kinds of disease,  bodily disorders and mental disorders. He declared that there is a relationship between mind and body in all psychosomatic diseases. When Nakulapita came to see the Buddha in his old age of advice on his ailing body, his reply was “Monks there are two kinds of diseases. What are they, bodily disease and mental disease. He was the first to believe in psychosomatic nature of various illness. In this diagnosis of illness, he makes clear the nature of each and the dependence of each has upon the other.  

In trying to find the cause of mental illness, he refers to the subtle back-stage maneuvres behind the illusory magic show of consciousness but in every case it might not be strong enough to destroy all influxes (Asava) which seek to influence every moment of one’s living experience. The influxes include all corrupting tendencies, inclinations and obsessions that constitute the ruts and grooves of our mental terrain. A deeper analysis of their influence is to be in the seven latencies (Anusaya) those of attachment, aversion, views, doubts, conceits, attachment to becoming and ignorance. If latencies are to be compared to subterranean currents of sub-conscious levels, influxes might be described as streams manifest at the conscious level. The potency and sweeping influence of these influxes is also compared to floods.

These latencies, influxes and floods are so powerful, a complete re-orientation of sense-perception can be achieved only through the diligent practice of the Noble Eightfold Path. Through this mental training the process of accumulation of the five aggregates of grasping can be efficiently checked, thus nullifying the influence of the above -said corrupting influences.

These five aggregates of grasping are compounded (Sankhata) and are accumulated sense-experience fermented by ignorance. Due to (Manna) egoistic clinging in the form of conceiving sense-data become impregnated with the very active ferment and proliferation (Papannea) follows. As such sense-data should be viewed with detachment. The Buddha’s advice to Bhaiya clearly indicates this: “Then Bhaiya, thus must you train yourself. In the seen there will be just seen, in the heard, just the heard, in the sensed, just the sensed, in the cognized, just cognized. Then Bahiya, you will not be reckoned by it, you will not be in it. And when Bahiya you will not be in it. Then Bahiya, you will not be here nor there nor midway between. This itself is the end of suffering.

The Buddha used different methods with different people afflicted with mental ailment. An analysis of Buddhist literature gives a vivid picture of various types of mentally-ill individuals. The rehabilitation of each of these individuals was based on his theory of suffering. But the techniques based on his theory of suffering but the technique applied varied with each individual. He indentified people suffering with the Oedipus complex e.g. Dhaarmapala Jataka. The story of Ajasaththa and Bimbisara is a dissertation on how, unhealthy experiences in early childhood act as unconscious motives in directing one's behaviour.

Rahulovada Sutta is a compendium on educating and rehabilitating an obsessed child. The story of Nakulapita is a thesis on psychosomatic disease. Angulimala, Devadathta are examples of psychopaths. Andepatha Jathaka is an exposition of a nymphomaniac. Sadism is explained in the Kshannatawadhi Jataka. Queen Khema is an example for narcissism, Kisagothami of a neurotic and Ambapali and Patachara of psychotics. Mayy unknown and subtle aspects of sexuality are explained by the Andhabhuta Jataka, Saththu Battha Jataka and Kusa Jataka.
See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

  Comments - 1

See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.

 

 
  • prasanna Monday, 16 December 2013 01:35 AM

    mental health


Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment


Statistical blunders expose administrative weaknesses

Information helps save lives and during a pandemic a free-flow of vital, accu

Vavuniya tusker’s demise DID TOO MANY ‘COOKS’ SPOIL JUMBO’S RECOVERY?

On June 11 Sri Lanka lost another one of its magnificent tuskers that succumb

Life and Times of Dynamic “Thamby” Arumugan Thondaman

Thamby”in Tamil means younger brother. It is also used widely as a pet name



See Kapruka's top selling online shopping categories such as Toys, Grocery, Flowers, Birthday Cakes, Fruits, Chocolates, Clothing and Electronics. Also see Kapruka's unique online services such as Money Remittence,News, Courier/Delivery, Food Delivery and over 700 top brands. Also get products from Amazon & Ebay via Kapruka Gloabal Shop into Sri Lanka.