In this lecture John Crook argues that Buddhist thought has more in common with Western scientific inquiry than with major world religions. The ancient tenets of Buddhist empiricism explore concepts of causation, self, and ethics in a way that provides a basis for a fresh contemporary world-view and for a spiritual practice. Based in an understanding of self, karma and meditation, Buddhist psychology shares congruent insights with many psychological perspectives of Western humanism. An education based in an integration of Eastern and Western humanism may contribute much to reversing the prevailing economic and environmental decadence of our time.
John Crook was Reader in Ethology in the Department of Psychology at Bristol University for many years. Following a year as a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford University, where he also encountered the humanistic psychology of the Esalen Institute, he became involved with therapeutic approaches to relieving human suffering. On returning to Bristol, he became interested in the social psychology of Buddhism, and led expeditions to Ladakh studying village and monastic life. He is the Teacher of the Western Chan Fellowship, which presents several types of intensive retreat in meditational psychology.