Saturday, February 27, 2010

Seven Cups Teahouse - Chinese Tea Ceremony (Oolong) History


Jami and I just came home from the Seven Cups Tea House, in Tucson, where we participated in a Chinese Oolong Tea Ceremony (the name “Oolong” or “Wu Long” meaning “Black Dragon”). I have never been a huge tea fan - sure, I like some good green tea, but I have never really gotten into the depth of variety in flavors and the Chinese associations of various teas and their health benefits.


Chinese Tea Ceremony History

The evolution of the Chinese Tea Ceremony mirrors the growth and importance of tea within Chinese culture. In the beginning, tea was cultivated and used solely as herbal medicine mostly within temples. Monks began to use tea to teach a respect for nature, humility and an overall sense of peace and calm. In fact, the spirit of the Chinese Tea Ceremony is described as he, jing, yi, zhen which translates to peace, quiet, enjoyment and truth. Monks felt they could illustrate deep philosophical concepts through tea service. It is for that reason that the underlying philosophies of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism blend together through the Chinese Tea Ceremony. Over time, people recognized the health benefits of tea but also its overall enjoyment. Tea ceremonies could be seen in memorial celebrations for both emperors and family ancestors.

The first written account of tea ceremonies was during the Tang Dynasty over 1200 years ago. The term to describe the serving of tea was initially called cha dao or the way of tea. Japanese monks traveling through China during this period began to learn tea and tea culture. After bringing this knowledge back to Japan, tea ceremonies evolved in Japan as it blended with Japanese culture resulting in the well-known Japanese Tea Ceremony and is still called cha dao. Although cha dao originated in China, many felt a new term was needed to distinguish between Japanese and Chinese tea ceremonies. In 1970, a Taiwanese tea master Lu Zi Kuang coined the term cha yi or art of tea, to represent current Chinese tea ceremonies.

There are six major aspects to consider when performing a Chinese Tea Ceremony. The following is a summary of both the technical knowledge and subtle skills for a successful ceremony.

  1. Attitude – The attitude of the person performing the ceremony should reflect both a happy and confident demeanor. The performer should exude a calm and relaxed manner to create a peaceful and enjoyable tea ceremony.
  2. Tea Selection – There are many considerations when selecting the right tea. In addition to fragrance, shape and taste, the tea should have a beautiful story and name.
  3. Water Selection – The best quality tea leaves will have poor taste if bad quality water is used. Therefore, select pure, light and clean water to ensure a wonderful tasting tea.
  4. Teaware Selection – It is important to select the correct teaware for brewing your tea leaves. In addition, allow your participants to fully appreciate the teaware by selecting both useful and beautiful items.
  5. Ambiance – A peaceful and calm environment can be created with a clean, comfortable and quiet room. Artwork can be used to enhance the overall atmosphere of the space.
  6. Technique – The basic skills for brewing tea are needed but also a graceful manner reflected through hand movements, facial expressions and clothing.
After speaking with Rene (our wonderful host - the Chinese Tea Ceremony is much less formal than the Japanese Tea Ritual), I bought some Rock Oolong tea, which is supposed to be good for people who exercise a lot. Wow, how perfect.
A famous culinary grease cutter in its own right, Rock Oolong tea also offers nutrients from the mineral rich soil of Wu Yi Shan, which are popularly believed to benefit joint health, to relieve muscle aches and are considerably popular in Japan as an aid to liver health.
And it's called Iron Arhat - seems like a good name for a Buddhist gym.

Shrink Rap Radio #231 – The Meditating Brain with Richard Davidson

I am really interested in neuroscience research into brain states during meditation, so this is a cool podcast for me.

Shrink Rap Radio #231 – The Meditating Brain with Richard Davidson

photo of Dr. Richard Davidson

Richard J. Davidson is the William James and Vilas Research Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry, Director of the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, Waisman Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in Psychology and has been at Wisconsin since 1984. He has published more than 250 articles, many chapters and reviews and edited 13 books. He has been a member of the Mind and Life Institute’s Board of Directors since 1991. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his research including a National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Award, a MERIT Award from NIMH, an Established Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders (NARSAD), a Distinguished Investigator Award from NARSAD, the William James Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society, and the Hilldale Award from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He was the Founding Co-Editor of the new American Psychological Association journal EMOTION and is Past-President of the Society for Research in Psychopathology and of the Society for Psychophysiological Research. He was the year 2000 recipient of the most distinguished award for science given by the American Psychological Association –the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. In 2003 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in 2004 he was elected to the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. He was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2006. In 2006 he was also awarded the first Mani Bhaumik Award by UCLA for advancing the understanding of the brain and conscious mind in healing. Madison Magazine named him Person of the Year in 2007.

A psychology podcast by David Van Nuys, Ph.D.

icon for podpress #231 – The Meditating Brain with Richard Davidson [56:29m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

John Perkins: The Hit Men Strike Home

I like Perkins - this is an insightful take on the global collapse. From

The current crisis is a classic hit by economic hit men (EHM) - except this time, the victims are us.

Drawing on personal experiences described in his blockbuster books (
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, The Secret History of the American Empire, and Hoodwinked), John Perkins explains how tools honed during the past four decades in developing countries are enabling the extremely rich to purchase businesses and real estate at fire sale prices; defend abolition of health care, education, and other social programs; and justify privatization of the public sector. However, crises offer opportunities.

Perkins presents a plan for transforming the economy and describes ways each of us can employ our individual passions and skills to not only prosper but also create a world we will be proud to pass on to future generations.

John Perkins has lived four lives: as an economic hit man (EHM); as the CEO of a successful alternative energy company, who was rewarded for not disclosing his EHM past; as an expert on indigenous cultures and shamanism, a teacher and writer who used this expertise to promote ecology and sustainability while continuing to honor his vow of silence about his life as an EHM; and as a writer who, in telling the real-life story about his extraordinary dealings as an EHM, has exposed the world of international intrigue and corruption that is turning the American republic into a global empire.

John Perkins spent three decades as an Economic Hit Man, business executive, author, and lecturer. He lived and worked in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and North America. Then he made a decision: he would use these experiences to make the planet a better place for his daughter's generation.

Today he teaches about the importance of rising to higher levels of consciousness, to waking up - in both spiritual and physical realms - and is a champion for environmental and social causes. He has lectured at universities on four continents, including Harvard, Wharton, and Princeton.

Owen Flanagan - Human Flourishing/Eudaimonics

Owen Flanagan

Human Flourishing/Eudaimonics

Owen Flanagan is James B. Duke Professor of Philosophy at Duke University. He also holds appointments in Psychology and Neurobiology and is a Faculty Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience. In 1998, he was recipient of the Romanell National Phi Beta Kappa award, given annually to one American philosopher for distinguished contributions to philosophy and the public understanding of philosophy. He has written several books; the most recent is The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World.

I'm reading the newest book right now - interesting, but it seeks to reduce subjectivity to the physical in ways I do not accept. Consciousness is a function of the brain/body inhabiting time and space within a socio-cultural context - all of these elements together construct a consciousness within the individual. Simply arguing between the humanistic (great chain of being) and the scientific (neurons and neurochemicals) does nothing to address the real issues.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dr. Ronald Pies - The anatomy of sorrow: a spiritual, phenomenological, and neurological perspective

This is an excellent articles from Dr. Pies, who is "Professor of Psychiatry and Lecturer on Bioethics and Humanities at S.U.N.Y. Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the author of The Ethics of the Sages (Rowman & Littlefield) and Everything Has Two Handles: The Stoic's Guide to the Art of Living (Hamilton Books) as well as several textbooks on psychopharmacology (see Handbook of Essential Psychopharmacology). He is interested in the connection between mental health care and various spiritual traditions." Oh yeah, and he is the editor of Psychiatric Times.

I have had the pleasure of conversing a bit with Dr. Pies through this blog, and I am a fan of his objectivity and open-mindedness. What appeals to me about this article is that he seeks to make a phenomenological analysis of sorrow and depression. In doing so, he identifies distinct and yet partly similar "lifeworlds." More importantly, he examines these ideas through the relational (sorrow is more relational, depression is intrapersonally focused), temporal (in sorrow, we know it will pass, but there is a slowing of time in depression), dialectical (sorrow generates intrapersonal conversation, depression does not), and intentional (we are overtaken by depression, but give ourselves over to sorrow) perspectives.

The anatomy of sorrow: a spiritual, phenomenological, and neurological perspective

Ronald Pies:

Department of Psychiatry, S.U.N.Y. Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY, USA
Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston MA, USA

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 2008, doi:10.1186/1747-5341-3-17

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


There is considerable controversy, both within and outside the field of psychiatry, regarding the boundaries of normal sadness and clinical depression. Furthermore, while there are frequent calls for a "pluralistic", comprehensive approach to understanding depression, few writers have tried to integrate insights from the spiritual, philosophical, and neurobiological literature. The author proposes that such a synthesis is possible, and that our understanding of ordinary sorrow and clinical depression is enriched by drawing from these disparate sources. In particular, a phenomenological analysis of sorrow and depression reveals two overlapping but distinct "lifeworlds". These differ in the relational, temporal, dialectical, and intentional realms. Recent brain imaging studies are also beginning to reveal the neurobiological correlates of sorrow and depression. As we come to understand the neurobiology of these states, we may be able to correlate specific alterations in "neurocircuitry" with their phenomenological expressions.


The field of psychiatry has always sought to incorporate insights from disciplines outside the realm of biology, notwithstanding the widespread notion that "biological psychiatry" is now the field's dominant paradigm. To be sure, recent advances in neurobiology–particularly in the area of mood disorders–have cast a bright light on the molecular and neurochemical bases of psychiatric illnesses.

To some degree, this has come at the expense of other modes of understanding. Indeed, some have upbraided modern-day psychiatry for ignoring the psychological, social and spiritual dimensions of emotional disorders. These attacks, in my view, distract us from the overriding task of integrating biological discoveries with a broader philosophy of emotional dysfunction. Insights from both the Western and Eastern spiritual traditions can help illuminate important aspects of ordinary sadness and pathological depression. A phenomenological analysis of these mood states can further enrich our understanding. Ultimately, I believe that a pluralistic view of mood disorders will aim at "mapping" experiential aspects of depression, such as hopelessness or self-deprecation, on to specific areas of brain dysfunction. In this paper, I try to provide a broad outline of such an integrated understanding of mood.

A brief spiritual history of sorrow and depression

Psychiatrists and psychologists are hardly the only ones who have recognized the difference between clinical depression and "normal" sadness or sorrow. The distinction seems to be as old as recorded history. Surprisingly, in the Old Testament, the figure of King David presents us with portraits of both severe depression and normal bereavement. In Psalm 38, conventionally ascribed to David, the psalmist is lamenting his sins. He tells us that "There is no soundness in my health in my bones because of my wounds grow foul and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostate; all the day I go about mourning...I groan because of the tumult of my heart." [1]. Modern diagnosticians would see in this description a picture quite consistent with an episode of major depression. In contrast, after the death of his beloved friend, Jonathan, the very same King David is far from "bowed down and prostrate". Rather, after a brief period of weeping and fasting, David is moved to write a passionately stirring dirge, known as "The Lament of the Bow" (2 Samuel 1:17–27), addressed to his lost friend: "How have the mighty fallen...I grieve for you, my brother Jonathan, you were most dear to me..." [1]. There is no trace, in David's lament, of the self-loathing and bodily decay found in Psalm 38. David's period of mourning after Jonathan's death represents roughly what modern-day mental health professionals would call "bereavement"–not clinical depression.

That life brings with it certain unavoidable or at least "expectable" sorrows is a concept found in Eastern religious thought, as well. In Buddhism, for example, we are told there are two roots of unhappiness in human existence: dukha and tanha. Dukha comprises the "...inevitable occasions of unhappiness" that come with human suffering, frailty, disease, loss of loved ones, and of course, death. Then there is tanha, which is translated as "blind demandingness": that part of our nature "...which leads us to ask of the universe...more than it is ready or even able to give." [2] Very roughly, we can see the precursors of normal and pathological sadness, respectively, in dukhaand tanha.

Similarly, the 14th century monk, Thomas ΰ Kempis (1380–1471) recognized that sorrow is sometimes appropriate. "Levity of heart and neglect of our faults," he wrote, "make us insensible to the proper sorrows of the soul." [3] Thomas asks, "Is there anyone who enjoys everything as he wishes? Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else on earth. There is no one in the world without trouble or anxiety, be he King or Pope."[3] Indeed, like many medieval theologians, Thomas saw this earthly existence as a vale of tears. He believed that, "...we often engage in empty laughter when we should rightly weep." [3]

Four centuries after Thomas ΰ Kempis, several Hassidic masters also distinguished between normal and abnormal degrees of sorrow. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev (1740–1810) wrote,

"There are two kinds of sorrow...When a man broods over the misfortunes that have come upon him... [and] cowers in a corner and despairs of help–that is a bad kind of sorrow..." In contrast, "...the other kind is the honest grief of a man who knows what he lacks." [4]

Similarly, writing at roughly the same time, Rabbi Simcha Bunam of Pshis'cha (1767–1827) recognized the distinction between "a broken heart" and what he termed "dejection":

"For it is a good thing to have a broken heart, and pleasing to God, as it is written: 'The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit...' [Psalm 51:19]...God does not entirely heal those who have broken hearts. He only eases their suffering, lest it torment and deject them. For dejection is not good and not pleasing to God. A broken heart prepares man for the service of God, but dejection corrodes service. We must distinguish as carefully between the two as between joy and wantonness..." [[4], p. 115, italics added].

Surprisingly, Rabbi Bunam seems to have foreseen not only our distinction between normal grief and clinical depression, but perhaps also that between normal joy and hypomania or mania ("wantonness").

Of course, it is not always easy to tell "proper sorrows" from intense grief, "pathological" grief, or clinical depression. Indeed, it is very doubtful that these are strictly delineated categories. Furthermore, the nature of the putative "cause" or precipitating event is not a reliable predictor of where, on this emotional continuum, a given individual may end up. The loss of a loved one, for example, ordinarily provokes sorrow and a finite period of grief and mourning. Most mourners do not develop a severe, intractable clinical depression. Indeed, in the Judaic tradition, it is expected that after the seven days of mourning known as shiva, the bereaved will generally be ready to resume some "everyday" activities (while refraining, however, from any kind of celebration) [5].

There are, of course, many exceptions to the generally self-limited course of mourning; in principle, there are as many kinds of mourning as there are mourners. The great medieval philosopher, Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides, 1135–1204), appears to have developed a profound and prolonged depression, after the death of his beloved brother, David, in a shipwreck. Maimonides writes, in a letter dated from 1176,

"On the day I received that terrible news [of David's death], I fell ill and remained in bed for about a year, suffering from a sore boil, fever, and depression, and was almost given up. About eight years have since passed, but I am still mourning and unable to accept consolation...all joy has gone...whenever I see his handwriting or one of his letters, my heart turns upside down and my grief awakens again." [6]

Autobiography/Biography: Narrating the Self

Interesting discussion.

Roundtable discussion with Nicholson Baker (fiction), David Shields (author), Judith Thurman (literary critic), Simon Winchester (author), and Louise Yelin (author) on the nature of Autobiography/Biography: Narrating the Self.

Sam Harris picks a fight with God (as usual)

Actually, of all the major "new atheists," I hold out the most hope for Harris - that his work in neuroscience and his dabbling in meditation might reveal the complexity of subjective states.

Sam Harris picks a fight with God

Getty Images
Feb. 12, 2010

According to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, an amazing 92% of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit—even one in five of self-identified atheists believe in a higher power. Ardent secularist Sam Harris isn’t deterred by those numbers, and in fact has made it his life’s mission to force the faithful to question their religious faith—Harris would even argue that the future of civilization is dependent on it. Questioning commonly held assertions and wisdom found in the Bible; seeking out debates with theologists across the spectrum, from Judaism to Christianity to Islam; and all but picking a fight with God, Sam Harris takes his secular crusade to Patt’s microphone.

Also on this episode


Sam Harris, co-founder & CEO of The Reason Project; neuroscience researcher; author of “The End of Faith” & “Letter to a Christian Nation”

The Dalai Lama on the Dreamless Sleep State

Conversations with the Dalai Lama
on Brain Science and Buddhism
edited by Zara Houshmand,
Robert B. Livingston, and B. Alan Wallace

Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

Allan Hobson: I should like to understand what, according to the Buddhist tradition, is the state associated with nondreaming sleep? How is it experienced? What are its characteristics?

Dalai Lama: Within the Buddhist tradition, we don't speak in terms of the brain but rather of subjective awareness, and also energies as these are experienced subjectively. Within that context, a distinction is made between grosser and subtler states of consciousness associated with grosser and subtler state of energy within the body. In deep sleep, the five sensory modalities have become inactive, and correspondingly the centers associated with them have become inactive. These changes are considered relatively gross. They also take place in a sequential process of going into deep, dreamless sleep, with these grosser states of awareness going dormant and the more subtle state of purely mental awareness becoming evident.

In the mind that is untrained in meditative practice, this sequence of the mind becoming more subtle will frequently not be evident. There are eight stages in this process of going into deep sleep. For a mind that is very finely disciplined in meditation each of those stages will become evident experientially. In relation to the nondreaming sleep state, the dreaming state is understood to be somewhat more gross. And according to certain texts, there are physiological processes that correspond to these different mental states, and these are associated with subjectively experienced energies in the body.

--from Consciousness at the Crossroads: Conversations with the Dalai Lama on Brain Science and Buddhism edited by Zara Houshmand, Robert B. Livingston, and B. Alan Wallace, published by Snow Lion Publications

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Transcending and Including James Fowler's Stages of Faith - The Religious Styles Perspective

While looking for some article for a friend on Fowler's Stages of Faith, I found this interesting article that transcends and includes Fowler's approach into a Religious Styles Perspective. The link opens a PDF version of the article.

For those who may new to Fowler, here are the basic stages of faith:
  • Stage 0"Primal or Undifferentiated" faith (birth to 2 years), is characterized by an early learning of the safety of their environment (ie. warm, safe and secure vs. hurt, neglect and abuse). If consistant nurturance is experienced, one will develop a sense of trust and safety about the universe and the divine. Conversely, negative experiences will cause one to develop distrust with the universe and the divine. Transition to the next stage begins with integration of thought and languages which facilitates the use of symbols in speech and play.
  • Stage 1"Intuitive-Projective" faith (ages of three to seven), is characterized by the psyche's unprotected exposure to the Unconscious.
  • Stage 2"Mythic-Literal" faith (mostly in school children), stage two persons have a strong belief in the justice and reciprocity of the universe, and their deities are almost always anthropomorphic.
  • Stage 3"Synthetic-Conventional" faith (arising in adolescence) characterized by conformity
  • Stage 4"Individuative-Reflective" faith (usually mid-twenties to late thirties) a stage of angst and struggle. The individual takes personal responsibility for their beliefs and feelings.
  • Stage 5"Conjunctive" faith (mid-life crisis) acknowledges paradox and transcendence relating reality behind the symbols of inherited systems
  • Stage 6"Universalizing" faith, or what some might call "enlightenment".
Part of what attracts me to this revision of Fowler is the inclusion of Merleau-Ponty who I have recently started reading and find quite useful. In The Embodied Mind by Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch, Merleau-Ponty's anti-science stance (reinterpreted as an "anti-cognitivist" stance) is translated into an embodied and enactive view of consciousness (which has also been done with neurophenomenology).

This is where Merleau-Ponty is needed in faith theory, as an embodied balance to the reliance of Piaget's cognitive model. I wonder how this model might evolve even more with a deeper understanding of biological, environmental, and cultural influences?

The following article comes from THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL FOR THE PSYCHOLOGY OF RELIGION, (2001): 11(3), 143–158.
Focusing on Fowler’s (1981) faith development theory (FDT), this article presents a modification of structural–developmental theory of religion. The primacy of cognitive development as motor and guideline of religious development is called into question. The new model, the typology of religious styles, is aimed at accounting more fully for the life-history- and life-world-relatedness of religion, at its principal interactive, interpersonal origin and shape. Thus the phenomenologists Merleau-Ponty (1962, 1988) and Ricoeur (1985/1988, 1990/1992) who provide philosophical perspectives, Noam’s (1985, 1988a, 1988b, 1988c, 1990) developmental perspective, which is based on interpersonality, as well as Rizzuto’s (1979, 1991) view of the psychodynamic development of religion, play a significant role for the reformulation. An overview of styles is described and illustrated in a figure. References to results of empirical research are included, and an explanation of fundamentalism is outlined that follows from the religious styles perspective.

In Fowler’s (1981) faith development theory (FDT), we have, on the one hand, an indispensable explanatory tool for the religious diversity of modernity and postmodern times—a diversity that is becoming even more diverse, as inner (biographical) and outer (societal) religious plurality is growing—spawning from new religious and fundamentalist orientations to a deep but rather diffuse hunger for spirituality. On the other hand, the faith development paradigm, with its focus on religious cognition and its almost unquestioned adoption of the structural–developmental “logic of development,” needs to be qualified in order to account for the rich and deep life-world- and life-history-related dimensions of religion—but also of fundamentalist turns. In my proposal of a classification of religious styles, I want to clear up part of this ambiguity and to try a new start in theory and research.

It is my view that cognitively based theorists have overlooked the central structuring activities of the self by defining the epistemic self as the sole representative of structure. In the process, I believe, the cart was placed before the horse, life history became content to the structure of the epistemic self. … Epistemology replaced life history. (Noam, 1990, p. 378)
With these words, Noam stated the point of the problem. The metaphor of the cart (cognitive competencies), which the theories of cognition have placed before the horse (the life history), refers also and above all to the neglect of the emotional, psychodynamic dimension. This critique also concerns the cognitive–structural theories of religious development.Amore substantial regard for the psychoanalytic and psychosocial would lead to displacement of the cognitive–structural view as the exclusive key theory. Noam’s aim thus was “going beyond Piaget” (Noam, 1990).1 Briefly, I summarize the critique of FDT, which I stated elsewhere (Streib, 1991, 1997). It is justified to speak of reductions with regard to religious development whenever the cognitive developmental logic is deemed to be not only the central theme, but also the motor of religious development, thus excluding dimensions of content, experiences, and function of religion. The shift of emphasis to, even the overburdening of, cognitive development is one face of the coin; the other is the disregard for dimensions that are just as crucial for the constitution and development of religion:

• The psychodynamic–interpersonal dimension (the psychodynamic of the self–self relationship).
• The relational–interpersonal dimension (the dynamic of the self–Other relationship).
• The interpretative–hermeneutic dimension (the dynamic of the self–tradition relationship).
• The life-world dimension (the dynamic of the self–social world relationship).

I therefore plead in favor of removing an obstacle to more-perspectiveness on religious development: The primacy of the cognitive structures as motor and guideline of religious development should be terminated. We should stop placing the cart before the horse. Instead, life history and life world, as shall now be explained, should move into the focus of the developmental perspective on religion.

Philosophically, the new perspective finds support in the writings of the French phenomenologists Merleau-Ponty (1988) and Ricoeur (1990/1992). Notwithstanding some differences of opinion, they contradict a developmental perspective that is associated with decentration, suggesting a different concept of decentration.2 For a path of “going beyond Piaget,” Merleau-Ponty’s (1988) lectures at the Sorbonne from 1949 to 1952 are of special importance because there, based on his phenomenological key concept of perception and of being-in-the-world, he develops, in explicit contrast to Piaget,3 a portrait of a unique logic in infancy and childhood—that thus contradicts its interpretation as prelogic, as Piaget would say—which leads to a new perspective on the development of language acquisition, of children’s drawings, of their causality, and of their self–Other relationship.

One of the important contributions from phenomenology, as presented in Ricoeur’s (1975/1981, 1981, 1985/1988, 1990/1992) and Merleau-Ponty’s (1962, 1988) works, thus, is the decisive account for the primacy of the life world and of the Other—the internal and external Other. For a revision of FDT, I therefore refer to and make use of two developmental perspectives, which I understand as ways of genuine psychological explication of the primacy of life world and Other and from which I have adopted not only terminological but also conceptual decisions.

First, I include Noam’s (1985, 1988b, 1988c, 1990) and Noam, Powers, Kilkenny, and Beedy’s (1991) critiques and moderation of the exclusive attribution of developmental dynamic to the development of cognition, and their fresh approach to the developmental dynamic in terms of interpersonal relationships. Biography, in a broad, multiperspective understanding, redirects primacy to interpersonality, social relationships, and life world as the basis for life history. This has decisive implications for religious development.

Second, for my revision I refer to the psychodynamic tradition represented by Erikson’s (1968) and Rizzuto’s (1979, 1991, 1996) work and to their contribution to an understanding of life history. Rizzuto’s contribution is of special importance because she has integrated the development of God representations into the psychodynamic view. Religious development appears in a new light when the mother–child dyad is understood as the origin of religion, when the transitional space between caretaker and child and the transitional objects that arise here are assumed to be the origin of the God representations. Religion, then, is conceived as a basically interactive process; religious development can be correlated with the development of object relations in a psychoanalytic perspective.

I therefore appreciate the extensive references to psychoanalytic contributions about infancy and early childhood that Fowler (1996) included to offer a rich description of the early stages. Although I agree with this portrait of the origin of faith in early childhood, I suggest that this portrait of faith and faith development is expanded on the other stages or styles of faith, and I do not agree, without qualification, which I will explicate later, with Fowler’s statement that the faith stages could still be “held to be invariant, sequential, and hierarchical”(p. 57).

The focus on interpersonality is common to both theoretical perspectives, which I refer to as key contributions to a revision of FDT: The relationship of the individual to interpersonal others in the social environment (external objects) and the relation to objects in terms of object-relations theory (internal objects) parallel each other and interrelate. Religious development is a complex process of entangled factors: of structural development, of schemata of interpersonal relationships, and of themata, which are presented to the individual by experiences—and sometimes traumas—in earlier life history and that may change and vary as the interpersonal, social, and societal relationships change over a lifetime. Thus the view that is closest to my perspective is the one by Noam (1988a, 1988c, 1990) who suggested understanding development as the complex interrelation of themata and schemata.

1See also, Noam and Kegan (1982). One could also speak of converting the theories of religious development “from top down to bottom up,” as Sutter and Charlton (1994) proposed for Piagetian theory.
2For a more detailed account of Ricoeur’s philosophy, including the problem of decentration—and its critical implication for FDT, see Streib (1991).
3For an extensive reconstruction of the dialog between Merleau-Ponty and Piaget that never took place (because Piaget did not respond to Merleau-Ponty), see Liebsch (1992).
Read the whole article.

The Biology, Morality and Politics of Addiction - Dr Gabor Maté - The Freedomain Radio Interview

From Freedomain Radio. Mate's new book, In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction, is getting a lot of good press. I am also a fan of his views on ADHD, seeing it less as a biological illness needing drugs and more as a cultural-environmental disorder treatable through therapy, nutrition, and other non-pharmaceutical supports.

In some ways - thinking in a cultural levels parts model - addicts are the exiled parts in our society who have taken on extreme behaviors (the addiction) as a result of our sick society (the cultural Self). And we have exiled them to prison, rather than help them with the illness, because we are unwilling as a culture to look at how sick we really are.

I don't know that Mate would agree - but that was what occurred to me as I listened to this interview.
Dr Gabor Maté reveals the biological basis of addiction, and the insanity of the statist war on drugs.

Born in Budapest, Hungary in 1944, Gabor Maté emigrated to Canada with his family in 1957. After graduating with a B.A. from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and a few years as a high school English and literature teacher, he returned to school to pursue his childhood dream of being a doctor.

Dr. Maté ran a private family practice in East Vancouver for over twenty years. He was also the Medical Co-ordinator of the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver Hospital for seven years.

Currently he is the staff physician at the Portland Hotel, a residence and resource centre for the people of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. Many of his patients suffer from mental illness, drug addiction and HIV, or all three.

Dr. Maté has had regular medical columns in The Vancouver Sun and the national Globe and Mail.

Widely recognized for his unique perspective on Attention Deficit Disorder, and his firmly held belief in the connection between mind and body health, he is a sought-after speaker and seminar leader on these topics.

He is the author of four books -- When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress, and Scattered Minds: A New Look at the Origins and Healing of Attention Deficit Disorder. The third book, Hold on to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers, he co-authored with developmental psychologist Gordon Neufeld. Most recently published is In The Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction.

Stephen Colbert - Freud Rage - The Iceman Counseleth

Stepehen Colbert as an "assistant sport psychologist" for the US Olympic team.

The Colbert Report
Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Freud Rage - The Iceman Counseleth -

Dharma Quote: Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, addresses those who have or will undertake a retreat

The Power and the Pain: Transforming Spiritual Hardship into Joy
by Dr. Andrew Holecek

Dharma Quote of the Week

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, addressing those who have or will undertake a retreat, gives this advice:

"You will fall sick, experience pain, and encounter many adverse circumstances. At such times do not think, 'Although I am practicing the Dharma, I have nothing but trouble. The Dharma cannot be so great. I have followed a teacher and done so much practice, and yet hard times still befall me.' Such thoughts are wrong views. You should realize that through the blessing and power of the practice, by experiencing sickness and other difficulties now, you are purifying and ridding yourself of negative actions.... By purifying them while you have the chance, you will later go from bliss to bliss. So do not think, 'I don't deserve this illness, these obstacles, these negative influences.' Experience your difficulties as blessings...when you do experience such difficulties, you should be very happy and avoid having adverse thoughts like, 'Why are such terrible things happening to me.'"

As Rinpoche advises, relating to hardship properly depends on the strength of one's view. In general, having a view is knowing exactly where you want to go and how to get there. It is the vision of knowing what you want. For example, if you have the view to become a doctor, your vision guides you through financial burdens, physical and emotional difficulties, and obstacles that get in your way. You know it will be difficult and involve sacrifice, but with a strong view, you forge to the finish line.

Similarly, if you want to become spiritually awakened, it is the power of your view that gets you there. If you are having a hard time getting to the meditation cushion, or engaging in the necessary study, it is because your view is not strong enough or is incomplete. A partial view, in this case, is one that doesn't include hardship. You can strengthen your view and accelerate progress by understanding how you lose your view in the fog of hardship, and therefore lose sight of your path.

--from The Power and the Pain: Transforming Spiritual Hardship into Joy by Dr. Andrew Holecek, published by Snow Lion Publications

Brain Science Podcast, Episode 60: Stuart Brown, MD talks about “Play”

Fascinating - somehow I missed this one when it was originally posted. One fact: many killers (especially mass killers) never engaged in "rough-and-tumble" play as children.

BSP 60: Stuart Brown, MD talks about “Play”

In Episode 60 of the Brain Science Podcast Ginger Campbell, MD interviews Dr. Stuart Brown, author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. Our focus is on the importance of play for normal mental development and psychological health. We also explore the importance of play in adults.

listen-to-audio Listen to Episode 60

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)

Subscribe to the Brain Science Podcast: itunes-badge-30 zunelogo-70 feed-icon32x32 mail-sticker-tiny

Join our Discussion Forum: discussionforum

Send email to Dr. Campbell at gincampbell at


Scientists Mentioned in the Podcast:

Books about Play and Related Topics:

Useful Links:

listen-to-audio Listen to Episode 60

Episode Transcript (Download PDF)