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Sun, J.T. (1924). Psychology in Primitive Buddhism. Psychoanal. Rev., 11:39-47.

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(1924). Psychoanalytic Review, 11(1):39-47

Psychology in Primitive Buddhism

Joe Tom Sun

From time immemorial the Law of Cause and Effect has been accepted by the philosopher when considering matters relating to the physical world.

To the early Aryan thinkers cause and effect played so important a rǒle that in speech there arose a single term to express the concept. This word was “Karma,” and it was tersely and dynamically denned as: “That power by virtue of which cause is followed by effect.”

The gift of gifts that was made by Buddha to mankind was his application of this Karmic Law, the law of cause and effect, to the moral world. In his discourses he contended this with inexorable consistency.

One of the most far-reaching contributions to philosophy made by Freud is his insistence upon psychic determinism; in the neuroses this is the relation existing between the symptom and its motivation. This is the application of the Law of Karma, not only to the physical and moral phases of life but also to the science of psychology.

In perusing some of the primitive Buddhist texts the analyst cannot fail to be charmed at the sound psychological insight into human behavior that was achieved by Buddha and taught by him to his followers.

To the five senses of the old psychology the Buddhists added a sixth. This is called “Mano,” thought perception. Mano is regarded as the mental eye, it is on a par with other sense organs such as the eye or ear, and its function is to observe what takes place in the mind. Mano is at once recognized as being identical with the endopsychic organ postulated by Freud and termed consciousness. Consciousness Freud defines as a sensory organ for the reception of psychic qualities.

The Buddhist concept of mano and the Freudian thesis of consciousness may be regarded as one of the most concrete examples of the phenomenon of convergent evolution that is known to have transpired in the realm of philosophy.

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