International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy

Volume 12 Num. 3 - October 2012


Doctrines about Life and a Relational Frame Analysis of Zen: Demythologization of Zen, Meditation and Nirvana

Volume 12 Num. 3 - October 2012 - Pages 301-332


J. Carmelo Visd?mine-Lozano


The paper addresses the original Zen (Ch?an) approach to the ontological problem concerning
the existential paradox of life and death, and the demythologization of Zen as a special pathway for a sort of magic, spiritualistic or transcendental goal. This question is addressed with a behavioral analytic conceptualization that employs a Relational Frame Theory (RFT) based analysis. Previous behaviorist approaches are criticized for contributing to the myth of Zen. RFT addresses the basic and complex relational discriminations involved in the life/death issue, and allows us to construct a taxonomy of life doctrines by considering the different relational frames entailed. Nine families of doctrines are finally established as possible categories. The relational frames which give rise to those families are: a) Hierarchical, b) Temporal and c) Sameness/Difference in the Self-as-context Hierarchical Frame. This paper examines how these frames are applied to life discrimination and finally, in which way Zen and Behavior Analysis are themselves instances of two different specific families of doctrines.

Key words:

Derived relational responding, life/death discrimination, ontological doctrines, Zen

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