Thứ năm - 09/05/2019 04:48
by Asep Yusup Indaviriyo

by Asep Yusup Indaviriyo*



Mental health is the main aspect which plays an important role in human life. It is considered can give a big effect to the human achievement that is success and happiness in this life here and thereafter. It, However, will be difficult to be realized as long as we do not know what is the reality of our identity and the cause of our problems. For that purpose, we have to know what are Buddhist methods of Psychotherapy used to build mental health. The main focus of all these things to know the appropriate methods used for the different characters of people. Library survey based on a large number of Buddhas instruction in the suttas as the primary sources and from the experts will be taken into consideration to prove this research. Generally, health can be divided into two i.e. physical health and mental health. This two kind of health cannot be separated because of them having mutual connection to one another. Mental health has a very significant aspect of human behavior due to happiness and suffering. Nevertheless, the latent defilements such as greed, hatred, and delusion make them suffering gain and again. The proper selection of meditation techniques along with its subject based on the human characters can be very useful in order to relieve even to eliminate the mental issues of people. As happiness cannot be measured by property which possessed, but the essence of happiness is the health that arising from the mental and impact to the body. Therefore, Buddhist Psychotherapy paved

*Graduate in Buddhist Philosophy, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka


the path for the people to get out from their problems especially due to the mental stress that commonly occurs in modern time and it is still relevant as the perfect solution to build the mental health.

The health is the main aspect which plays an important role in human life. The health considered can give a big effect to the human achievement in order to realize the main goal that is success and happiness in this life and hereafter. With the health, all activities were able to be implemented according to the goal which is expected. Generally, the health can be divided into two i.e. the Psychological Health and Physical health. These two kinds of healthy cannot be separated because they have a mutual connection with each other. Psychological health has a very significant aspect of human behavior due to happiness and suffering. Especially happiness cannot be measured by property which possessed, but the essence of happiness is the healthy which arose from the mental and impact to the physical. Clearly, Buddha says possessing the healthy is the highest boon in life{Arogyaparama lābhā} (Dh. XV.204, trans. Narada,2006: 177). In this brief essay, I will show the Buddhist perspective toward suffering concern with the mental issues, the main causes of the mental illness, and what are the techniques of the Buddhist Psychotherapy to treat the mental issues.
    1. The Buddhist Perspective On Mental Disorder

Suffering (Dukkha) was reality and inseparable part of the human life. It is the first of Four Noble Truth as the fundamental teaching of Buddhism. It does not mean Buddhism as a pessimistic religion which has hopeless to realize from the suffering. However, Buddha not only teaches concerning with the suffering but also how to rid from it as it is mentioned in Bhayabheravasutta (M.I.23, trans. Ñāṇamoli, and Bodhi, 1995:106). Buddhist teaching points out that in all aspects of human life consist of suffering or unsatisfactoriness. Even inside of happiness itself still has un- satisfactoriness in it because it will change and vanish soon or later (Gnanarama,2000: 44-45). Saṅgītisutta shows three kinds of

distinguishable suffering. Since we were born amount of pain has been experienced physically as well as mentally viz. sick, old age, and death which generally accepted as the universal suffering (Dukkha- dukkha). All these phenomena are the only process of arising and cessation and have no substance, essence, self and not my mine. Why, because It happens in all of the existences (Saṅkhāradukkha) and they unable to stop the process of change. Further, the people fell down into sorrow, lamentation, and despair because they do not like to accept the ever-changing of condition (vipariāmadukkha) (D.III.216, trans. Maurice, 2012: 484).

All Beings will experience sickness both mentally and physically as long as they are living in the circle of Saṃsara and have not eliminated yet completely all defilements. All of the impurities thought to abide in the human mind viz.  endless  desire  to  get much more exceed what is needed, malice,  jealousy,  anger,  ill- will, fear, afraid, anxiety, doubt, etc are psychological issues which create series suffering to the man. Easy to detect and remedy for the physical illness, but not so in the mental illness. Actually the mental illnesses, therefore, much more dangerous and create more miserable, and suffering rather than physical illnesses (Dh. III.42, trans. Narada, 2006: 44).
    1. Causes Of Mental Issues

Buddhism supposes that life as a stream of arising and ceasing which was conditioned by many factors both internal and external causes. Freud argued that mental disorders come into existence because of certain traumatic factors in the past buried in the unconsciousness mind of man (Padmasiri,1973: 24-25). Dr. Rajitha Puspakumara (2016: 78) pointed out that human behavior can be known through his behavior. Their behavior either good or bad are influenced by various factors and causes i,e. culture education, social norms, genetic, etc. it means the physical characteristics of people are almost entirely to heredity, while the personality characteristics such as behavior and temperament come into existence from the interaction of the environment (Keerthi, 2012: 9).

Generally, the causes of problematic behaviors and Psychiatric disorders can arise because two sources, that is from the internal

and external. In the twentieth chapters of Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification). It said there are different kinds of influences for the problematic behaviors and Psychiatric disorders such as Psychological influence, physical influence, karmic influence and temperature influence (Vism. XX.614-617, trans.Ñāamoli, 2010: 631-665). They are briefly introduced as follows:
      1. Internal Sources

Psychological influence; Akusalamūlasutta mentioned that there are the root causes, which give influence to the existence of abnormal human behavior are called Akusalamūla. Threefold root causes, such as Lobha (Desire), Dosa (hatred), and Moha (delusion) (A.I.201-202, trans.Bodhi, 2012: 291). The characteristic of three roots i.e:

Desire (Loba), human ambition is to obtain pleasant things can be known as desire. It is the first pollutant of mind which is considered as the worst, unlimited its scope and can survive in a long period of time. It is insatiable, having fulfilled one wish, it will jump to the next desire, endless, nonstop, therefore it was difficult to control it. Simply, it is easy to arise but difficult to be eliminated.

Hatred (Dosa). Avoiding unpleasant things can be known as ha- tred. Although hatred, anger, ill-will etc, were able to harm others. It, however, occurs in short time, limited in its scope and easier to control it.

Delusion (Moha). Non-understanding of above two matters and the reality of life are called delusion. It is considered the most powerful latent pollutant of mind that enwrap greed and hatred and it has the ability to maintain the human mind permanently in the ignorance state (Madawala, 2009: 322-327).

Dhammacakkappavattanasutta clarifies these three inspirations within one word namely craving (Tahā) which is known as thirst. The thirst for the sensual pleasure (Kamatanha), the thirst for re- becoming repeatedly in various kinds of existences (Bhavatanha), and thirst to reject strongly any re-becoming (Vibhavatanha) (S.V.421, trans.Bodhi, 2000: 1844). Craving is the chief root of suffering and of the endless continuing cycle of rebirths. In Buddhist

canonical texts, these root causes are elucidated as the foremost inner inspiration of the individuals (Nyanaponika,2008: 27).

Besides that, the people were suffering because of their mind live in fantasy and imagination of past and future events. If the past moment was pleasant, they would like to repeat it again and again. On the contrary, if it is a tragic event, they want to escape from them. Actually, we grow up from these two illusions the past and the future. Buddha said that the past has gone and future has not come yet, uncertain things (M.III.187, trans.Ñāṇamoli, and Bodhi, 1995: 1039)1

We fall sad because of our past memory, longing for pleasant things or hate unpleasant things in the past and we will fear or afraid of the uncertain things in the future. As the result, the mind and body always burn by the fire of craving, the fire of lust, hatred, and delusion thus Buddha says in Ādittapariyāyasutta (S.IV.19, trans. Bodhi, 2000: 1143). These fire exist in the mind that caused suffer- ing of beings. Moreover, Vipallāsasutta points out that our mind has a tendency to held wrong views that distortion to the unreal things in the world. Buddha said that all things are impermanent but we considered them as permanent (Anicca-Nicca), unsatisfactoriness as satisfactoriness (Dukkha-Sukha), non-substantial as substantial (Anatta-Atta), and foulness as beautiful (Asubha-Subha) (A.II.52, trans.Bodhi, 2012: 438)).

Karmic influence: besides three root causes, previous karmic also belongs to inherent sources. It is concerned here as a central element that can affect present physical and mental performance. The karmic influences can be found in the story of Chakkuphala, Moggalana story (Dh.A. I.19, III.64, trans. Eugene Watson: 158, 306-307 ), even the Buddha himself got some unpleasantness during his life (Ap. I.299-300, trans.Ānandajoti,2012: 10-66 ).
      1. External Sources

1.Physical influence: human beings are formed of solid (Paṭhavi), liquid (Āpo), heat (Tejo), gas (Vāyo), (Ab.s VI.3, trans. Bodhi, 2006:
        1. Atītaṃ nānvāgameyya, nappaṭikaṅkhe anāgataṃ; Yadatītaṃ pahīnaṃ taṃ, appattañca anāgataṃ. (Bhaddekarattasutta {pts.III.187} Vibhaṅgavagga Uparipaṇṇāsa of the Majjhimanikaya.

237). In Madhava Nidana of the Ayurvedic treatise (Nissanka, 2005: 29) added that imbalance of the four great elements as well as rheumatics (Vāta), bile (Pitta), phlegm, (Seṃha) etc will give significant effect causes to problematic behavior and psychiatric disorder of the body of individuals.

Sociological influence, in Siṅgālasutta Buddha, advised his followers both the monks and lay people to avoid to make relation with the bad friends (Papamitta). Because from associate with them we will follow their habit and behavior (D.III.183, trans.Maurich Walshe, 2012: 463, Sugathamuni, 2014: 23-27).

Cultural and economic influence, the mental disorder and abnormal behavior also influenced by their cultural and the difficult condition in economic scope.
    1. The Techniques Of Buddhist Psychotherapy

Unlike the Western Psychotherapy to treat the mental disorder using chemicals, electric shocks, brain operation, using drugs, etc (Nissanka, 2005: 7-8). Actually, there is no exact of medical approach for the psychological health of people. Because of medicines unable to produce the same effect to a different patient, although all the people who used it possesses the same illness. The medicine might effective for somebody but ineffective for others, and even might dangerous. Buddha, therefore, gave simile about three kinds of patients i.e the firstly a patient who will certainly fail and dying although he took special treatment. This group of people belongs to Padaparama. The secondly a patient who will certainly recover from his illness whether he gained good treatment or not (Uggantitaññu), and then thirdly a patient who will recover if he takes the right treatment, but he will die and fail if he takes the wrong medicine or treatment (Neyya) (A.I.120-121, trans.Bodhi, 2012: 217, Ledi, 2007: 124).

Buddhist techniques to the mental illnesses can be done through two kinds of treatment namely the Psychological Counseling and meditation to build up their awareness.
      1. The Psychological Counseling
The patient will be carried from the condition know toward the

unknown. It means the patients actually know their suffering but they do not know the cause of their suffering, they do not know the reality of life even do not want to accept what is going on. Through the comparison with others’ life, they will be showed to the reality of life. In this way know to unknownwill bring all memories which stored in the unconscious of the patient leading to the conscious condition. In many Buddhas discourses, Buddha used psychological counseling to treat the mental issues of the people such as Kisagotami, Patacara, Culapanthaka.

2.3.2 Mindfulness Meditation

The Buddha gives the solution to resolve mental issues through series ways of meditation based on the human characters. Two kinds of Buddhist meditation namely Samatha Bhavana (tranquility) and Vipassanā (insight) are very important methods in order to create mental health. Samatha Bhavana has the capability to press the power of defilements to build up concentration and one- pointedness. On the other hand, Vipassana Bhavana is practiced to develop understanding and wisdom regards to all impermanence of formations (Encyclopedia of Buddhism, 2011: 673-674). Besides that, there are six characters of man i.e desired character (Rāga Carita), hatred character (Dosa Carita), deluded character (Moha Carita), faithful character (Saddhā Carita), intelligent character (Buddhi Carita), and speculation character (Vitakka Carita). This six kinds of characters can be distinguished due to their different types of postures, actions, eating patterns, modes of seeing and with their various mental states (Vism.III.101, trans.Ñāṇamoli, 2010: 96- 98).

In order to get the satisfying result of meditation, people should choose the appropriate meditation subject according to their characters. Visuddhimagga mentioned forty meditation subjects which have the capability to eliminate the bad character gradually (Vism. III.110, trans.Ñāṇamoli, 2010: 104).2   For instance, the

  1. cattālīsa kammaṭṭhānāni dasa kasiṇā, dasa asubhā, dasa anussatiyo, cattāro brahmavi- hārā, cattāro āruppā, ekā saññā, ekaṃ vavatthānanti – Ten kasinas, ten kinds of foulness, ten recollections, four divine abidings, four immaterial states, one perception, and one defining respectively. (Cattālīsakammaṭṭhānavaṇṇanā Kammaṭṭhānaggahaṇaniddesa of the Visud-

meditation subjects of the four sublime abodes (Brahma Vihara) such as loving-kindness (Mettā), compassion (Karuṇā), altruistic joy (Muditā) and  Equanimity  (Upekkhā)  and  contemplation to the Four kinds of colors (Kasiā) is the suitable meditation subject for the people who have hatred character. It can be used to eliminate anger, ill-will, cruelty, envy, jealousy, aversion, etc (Ediriweera, 2007: 38). The people who have the greed character should contemplation toward impurities of body or the ten kinds of foulness (Dasa Asubhā) (Vism. III.110, trans.Ñāṇamoli, 2010: 105)3 and the deluded person was suggested to practice the mindfulness of in and out breathing (Ānasati).

There are a number of discourses of Majjhima Nikaya which are very important as the method of Buddhist meditation concept to treat mental issues such as Satipaṭṭhānasutta Vitakkasaṇthānasutta, Sabbāsavasutta, Dvedhāvitakkasutta, etc. All of these suttas empha- size to develop mindfulness.

Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya is one of most im- portant Buddhas discourses concerning the treatment of mental issues, it was considered as the only one path and the direct path for the purification of beings that is the four foundation of mindfulness (M.I.55, trans. Ñāṇamoli, and Bodhi, 1995: 145).4 It is practice to develop mindfulness toward body, mind, feeling and mind-objects (Kaya, Citta, Vedana and Dhamma respectively). Seeing things as they have come to be (Yathābhūtañāna-dassana) namely body as body, mind as mind, feeling as feeling and mind objects as mind object without any attachment toward them.

According to Sabbasavasutta, defilement can be eliminated by using the seven methods namely by seeing or understanding on defilements (Dassanā), by restraining mind and body (Savarā), by using four kinds of requisites without attachment toward them (Paṭisevanā), by cultivating the patient from all kinds of pain and uncomfortable (Adhivāsanā), by keeping away from the people

dhimagga I)
  1. Ten kinds of foulness (Dasa asubhās): bloated, livid, festering, cut-up, gnawed, scattered, hacked and scattered, bleeding, worm infested and skeleton.
  2. Ekāyano ayaṃ, bhikkhave, maggo sattānaṃ visuddhiyā  (Mahāsatipaṭṭhānasutta
{pts.I.55} Mūlapariyāyavagga Mūlapaṇṇāsa of the Majjhimanikaya.

or place that can be caused increasing of taints (Parivajjanā), by removing all intoxicate of mind (Vinodanā ), and some of the defilement should be eliminated by meditates (Bhavana) of the mindfulness enlightenment factors (M.I.7, trans. Ñāṇamoli, and Bodhi, 1995: 96).5

In Vitakkasaanasutta mentioned the five approaches or ways to remove distracting thoughts as follows: When the mind has filled with greed, hatred or delusion, he should replace the bad thought with a good thought, reflect on the consequences of unwholesome thought or examine its danger, not give attention or forget them, stilling or remove the source of unskillful thoughts, if all failed with clenched teeth and the tongue pressing on the palate, crush mind with mind (M.I.118-122, trans. Ñāṇamoli, and Bodhi, 1995: 211-213).

Buddhatalksabout2kindsofthoughtsintheDvedhāvitakkasutta, firstly is the unskillful thought (Akusalavitakkā) i.e thoughts of sensuality (Kāmavitakka), thoughts of ill will (Byāpādavitakka), thoughts of harm (Vihiṃsāvitakka) which lead to the affliction of oneself, to others and to the affliction of both. It obstructs insight, causes disturbances, and does not lead to Enlightenment. The secondly is the skillful thought (Kusalavitakkā) i.e thoughts of Non-sensuality (Nekkhammavitakka), thoughts of loving-kindness (Abyāpādavitakka), and thoughts of compassion (avihiṃsāvitakka) which leads neither to the affliction of oneself, nor to the others, nor to of both. It guides toward understanding, gets rid of obstacles, and leads to the Supreme bliss. When the unskillful thoughts arise, one should reflect on the danger of these thoughts and get rid of them. On one hand one should give up the unskillful thought and the other hand he should cultivate the skillful thought (M.I.114, trans. Ñāṇamoli, and Bodhi, 1995: 207-209).

There are many benefits can be felt in practicing of meditation. For instance, it mentioned in the Metsutta that there are eleven benefits will be obtained such as sleep well, happy, have nice dreams, his facial complexion is peaceful and fair, etc (A.V.342, trans. Bodhi, 2012: 1573)

  1. The 7 Factors of Enlightenment, are: Mindfulness (Sati-sambojjhaṅga), investigation of the law (dhamma-vicaya), energy (viriya), rapture (ti), tranquillity (passaddhi), concentra- tion (samādhi), and equanimity (upekk-sambojjhaṅga)


Beings are a combination of Psychology and Physiology aspects. Especially, Human being was beyond of all being in the Universe, because of their own mind. Human life is subject of change, so called it as conditioned and all unconditioned are un-satisfactoriness and it does not come from the eternal entity like God but it comes from themselves. The attachment (Tanha) associates with the greed, hatred, and delusion in which they are the unwholesome roots as the main causes which deep-rooted in the human conscious and their behavior as well. As its result, the endless desire, lust, anger, conceit, foolishness, etc produce various kind of illness both physically and mentally issues in human life.

Buddhism was the religion based on human-center. It is the only religion in the world emphasizes the significance of the human mind. With their own mind, the men have the capability to create both happiness and suffering for themselves. Most of the Buddhas discourses teach how to rid from suffering and attain happiness. Counseling and a number of Meditation methods along with its aspects were to be used as an alternative treatment to recover the mental issues of mankind. The highest aim of meditation is to attain the perfect mental health and pure happiness here in this life even the ultimate happiness (Nibbana). But as long as the people have not destroyed defilement yet completely in their mind so the mental issues will exist even it can develop quickly and the peace of Nibbana cannot be realized.

Mental health is the realization of stability between psychological functions and created self-adaptation between himself and his environment. The health person psychologically is one who has the ability to control his mind and behavior and has a responsibility toward his own fate. The most important is we must practice to be aware in every moment and live in the present moment viz. neither live in the past nor in the future, because memorize the past events will create sorrow and the imagination of the future will make our life full with anxious. Therefore, through the mental culture, the understanding of reality can be realized and mental health can be attained here in this very life.


Ab.s : Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha Ap : Apadāna
D  : Dighā Nikāya Dh : Dhammapada
Dh.A : Dhammapada-AṭṭhakatM : Majjhima Nikāya
S   : Sayutta Nikāya Vism : Visuddhimagga

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