Through a Wisdom Eye: An Interview with Josh Bartok
Just to interject for a moment: one of our contributors to the Future of Buddhism series cautions against a mismatch between Buddhism and psychology.
I wouldn't want to say they're the same thing at all. There can or can not be areas of overlap and areas of non-overlap; there are the dispositions of the therapist and patient that influence that as well, and so forth. But there are certainly areas of resonance.
Another book that's doing really well is Mindfulness Teaching and Teaching Mindfulness: A Guide for Anyone Who Teaches Anything. It's what we, in-house, call "stealth Dharma." It doesn't use the word "Dharma," or "Buddha" or anything at all from religious tradition whatsoever. It's getting a really enormously popular response among all kinds of folks, and we're hearing from many deans and department heads and school board members that they're going to recommend that everyone in the department and the students read this. I think there's a way in which that represents a deep, profound, and major influence that the Dharma is having on our society and culture -- in such a way that you don't even see it as such. If you didn't know what the Dharma is in advance, and didn't know what to look for, then you wouldn't see that what is having an effect is in fact the Dharma.
One other, most-important, large area in which we're contributing to the larger dialogue is that of illness, death, and dying. Our culture, as a whole, especially the more popular media, have a tendency to turn away or push out of awareness those essential parts of being alive. One of Buddhism's greatest gifts to us in the West is to help us look squarely at those things and put them to good use, as Buddhism starts to have influence and a presence in chaplaincy and hospice movements.
And how about the issue of translation? How you see that playing a role?
While there is translation into English from classic Buddhist texts, much of the cutting-edge, new material is now coming from the West. So we see our books translated into German, French, Spanish, as well as Portuguese, Russian, Slovenian, Hebrew, Czech, Polish. There's an enormous world-influence going in that direction.
Part of what's particularly interesting is how a number of our books are translated into Asian languages, having a kind of feedback energy into the cultures that nurtured the Dharma for centuries: Razor-Wire Dharma: A Buddhist Life in Prison being translated into Korean; Mindfulness Yoga into Chinese; The Dharma of Star Wars into Japanese; many of our Insight Meditation and Theravada titles translated into Thai. So what came to us from the East is now returning to the East, and reaching new people there. The deep cultural foundation of centuries of Buddhist influence in Asian countries is diminished now. In Zen tradition, for instance, a couple of teachers in Japan say if you really want to study Zen then you'd want to go to America.
Our Dharma in the West is to take it out of its historical and cultural enmeshment, and monastic focus, and to look at it in terms of all its aspects of modern life. And those books are then interesting to folks in Asia, as well.