The author discusses similarities, differences and identities between the later work of the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion and the Soto Zen Buddhist teacher Eihei Dogen. The discussion elaborates points that help to explain the interest in Bion by psychoanalysts who work to integrate Buddhism and psychoanalysis. Four major points of convergence structure this discussion. They include: a radical openness to unknowing; a shared orientation to the relation between intuition and cognition; a shift from attention to static mind states to an emphasis on fluid functions and actional relationships; and a radically experiential orientation rooted in the present moment.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abe, M., & Waddell, N. (2002). The heart of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (Eds. and Trans.). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Adams, W. (1995). Revelatory openness wedded with the clarity of unknowing: Psychoanalytic evenly suspended attention, the phenomenological attitude, and meditative awareness. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought,18(4), 463–494.
Aguayo, J., & Malin, B. (Eds.). (2013). Wilfred Bion: Los Angelis seminars and supervision. London: Karnac.
Alfano, C. F. (2005). Traversing the caesura: Transcendent attunement in Buddhist meditation and psychoanalysis. Contemporary Psychoanalysis,41(2), 223–247.
Bion, W. (1965). Transformations. London: Karnac.
Bion, W. (1967). Notes on memory and desire. In: J. Aguayo & B. Malin (Eds.), Wilfred Bion: Los Angeles seminars and supervision (pp. 136–138). London: Karnac. 2013.
Bion, W. (1970). Attention and interpretation. London: Karnac.
Bion, W. (1990). Brazilian lectures. London: Karnac.
Bléandonu, G. (1994). Wilfred Bion: His life and works, 1897–1979. London: Free Association Books.
Bobrow, J. (2002). Psychoanalysis, mysticism, and the incommunicado core. Fort da,8(2), 62–71.
Bobrow, J. (2004). Presence of mind. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies,1(1), 18–35.
Bobrow, J. (2007). The disavowal of the personal in psychoanalytic training. Psychoanalytic Review,94(2), 263–276.
Christensen, A., & Rudnick, S. (1999). A glimpse of Zen practice within the realm of countertransference. American Journal of Psychoanalysis,59(1), 59–69.
Christensen, L. W. (1999). Suffering and the dialectical self in Buddhism and relational psychoanalysis. American Journal of Psychoanalysis,59(1), 37–57.
Cooper, P. C. (1998a). The disavowal of the spirit: Wholeness and integration in Buddhism and psychoanalysis. In A. Molino (Ed.), The couch and the tree: Dialogues in psychoanalysis and Buddhism (pp. 231–246). New York, NY: Farrar Straus/Northpoint.
Cooper, P. C. (1998b). Sense and non-sense: Phenomenology, Buddhist and psychoanalytic. Journal of Religion and Health,37(4), 351–370.
Cooper, P. C. (1999). Buddhist meditation and countertransference: A case study. American Journal of Psychoanalysis,59(1), 71–85.
Cooper, P. C. (2000). Unconscious process: Zen and psychoanalytic versions. Journal of Religion and Health,39(1), 57–70.
Cooper, P. C. (2001a). Clouds into rain. Journal of Religion and Health,40(1), 167–184.
Cooper, P. C. (2001b). The gap between: Being and knowing in Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis. American Journal of Psychoanalysis,61(4), 341–362.
Cooper, P. C. (2002a). Between wonder and doubt: Psychoanalysis in the goal-free zone. American Journal of Psychoanalysis,62(2), 95–118.
Cooper, P. C. (2002b). The pervasion of the object: Depression and unitive experience. Psychoanalytic Review,89(3), 413–439.
Cooper, P. C. (2004a). Oscillations: Zen and psychoanalytic versions. Journal of Religion and Health,43(3), 233–243.
Cooper, P. C. (2004b). The abyss becoming well: Psychoanalysis and reversals in perspective. Psychoanalytic Review,91(2), 157–177.
Cooper, P. C. (2007). Into the mountain stream: Psychotherapy and Buddhist experience. Lanham. MD: Jason Aronson.
Cooper, P. C. (2010). The Zen impulse and the psychoanalytic encounter. London: Routledge.
Cooper, P. C. (2014a). Taste the strawberries. American Journal of Psychoanalysis,74(2), 147–161.
Cooper, P. C. (2014b). Zen meditation, reverie, and psychoanalytic listening. Psychoanalytic Review,101(6), 795–813.
Cooper, P. C. (2016). Zen musings on Bion’s “O” and “K”. Psychoanalytic Review,103(4), 515–538.
Cooper, P. C. (2018). Zen insight, psychoanalytic action: Two arrows meeting. London: Routledge.
Deshimaru, T. (2012). Mushotoku mind: The heart of the Heart Sutra. Chino Valley, AZ: Hohn Press.
Dogen, E. (1227). Fukanzazengi. In M. Abe & N. Waddell (Eds.), The heart of Dogen’s Shobogenzo (Eds. and Trans.) (pp. 1–6). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 2002.
Dogen, E. (1233). Genjokoan [The Realized Universe]. Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo: Book I. (G. Nishijima & C. Cross, Trans.) (pp. 33–37). Woods Hole, MA: Windbell. 1994.
Dogen, E. (1242). Immo. [On That Which Comes Like This]. Shobogenzo. H. Nearman (Trans.) (pp. 364–373). Mount Shasta, CA: Shasta Abbey Press. 2007.
Dogen, E. (1243). Zazenshin [A Needle for Zazen]. Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo: Book II. (G. Nishijima & C. Cross, Trans.) (pp. 91–106). Woods Hole, MA: Windbell. 1996.
Eigen, M. (1998). The psychoanalytic mystic. London: Free Association Books.
Epstein, M. (1984). On the neglect of evenly suspended attention. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology,16(2), 193–205.
Epstein, M. (1988). Attention and psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought,11, 171–189.
Epstein, M. (1995). Thoughts without a thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective. New York, NY: Basic Books.
Ferro, A. (2011). Avoiding emotions, living emotions. London: Routledge.
Ferro, A. (2017). Attacks on linking, or uncontainability of beta elements? In C. Bronstein & E. O’Shaughnessy (Eds.), Attacks on linking revisited: A new look at Bion’s classic work (pp. 161–178). London: Karnac.
Grotstein, J. (2007). A beam of intense darkness: Wilfred Bion’s legacy to psychoanalysis. London: Karnac.
Harrison, J. (2006). Bion’s O—An open gate between eastern and western psychotherapy. Retrieved from http://pweb.netcom.com/~mthorn/vesnotes.htm
Horney, K. (1945). Our inner conflicts. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.
Kim, H. J. (2004). Eihei Dogen: Mystical realist. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.
Leighton, T. D. (2015). Just this is it: Dongshan and the practice of suchness. Boston, MA: Shambhala.
Lopez-Corvo, R. E. (2002). The dictionary of the work of W.R. Bion. London: Karnac. 2005.
Lopez-Corvo, R. E. (2006). Wild thoughts searching for a thinker: A clinical application to W. R. Bion’s theories. London: Karnac.
Magid, B. (2002). Ordinary mind: Exploring the common ground of Zen and psychotherapy. Boston: Wisdom.
Mathers, D., Miller, M., & Ando, O. (2009). Self and no-self: Continuing dialogue between Buddhism and psychoanalysis. London: Routledge.
Mendoza, S. (2010). The O of emptiness and the emptiness of O. British Journal of Psychotherapy,26(3), 305–320.
Moncayo, R. (1998). True subject is no-subject: The real, imaginary, and symbolic in psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought,21(3), 383–422.
Moncayo, R. (2012). The signifier pointing at the moon: Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism. London: Karnac.
Molino, A. (1998). The couch and the tree: Dialogues in Buddhism and psychoanalysis. New York: North Point Press.
Molino, A., Carnavali, R., & Giannandrea, A. (2013). Crossroads in psychoanalysis, Buddhism, and mindfulness: The word and the breath. Lanham, MD: Jason Aronson. 2014.
Nichol, D. (2006). Buddhism and psychoanalysis: A personal reflection. American Journal of Psychoanalysis,66(2), 157–172.
Nishijima, G., & Cross, C. (2008). Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo: Books I and II (Eds. and Trans.). Woods Hole, MA: Windbell.
Pelled, E. (2007). Learning from experience: Bion’s concept of reverie and Buddhist meditation: A comparative study. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis,88(6), 1507–1526.
Rhode, E. (1998). On hallucination, intuition and the becoming of “O”. Binghamton, NY: ESF.
Rubin, J. B. (2009). Deepening psychoanalytic listening: The marriage of Buddha and Freud. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 69, 93–105.
Safran, J. (2003). Psychoanalysis and Buddhism: An unfolding dialogue. Somerville, MA: Wisdom.
Suler, J. R. (1993). Contemporary psychoanalysis and eastern thought. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Suler, J. R. (1995). In search of the self: Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Review,82(3), 407–426.
Suzuki, S. (1970). Zen mind beginner’s mind. New York, NY: Weatherhill.
Suzuki, D. T., Fromm, E., & De Martino, R. (1960). Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism. In E. Fromm, D. T. Suzuki, & R. De Martino (Eds.), Zen Buddhism and psychoanalysis (pp. 77–141). New York, NY: Harper & Brothers.
Symington, J., & Symington, N. (1996). The clinical thinking of Wilfred Bion. London: Routledge.
Vermote, R. (2011). On the value of ‘late’ Bion to analytic theory and practice. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis,92(5), 1089–1098.
Vermote, R. (2017). The sane and the insane psychotic: “Attacks on linking” revisited from Bion’s later work. In C. Bronstein & E. O’Shaughnessy (Eds.), Attacks on linking revisited: A new look at Bion’s classic work (pp. 75–86). London: Karnac.
Young-Eisendrath, P., & Muramoto, S. (2002). Awakening and insight: Zen Buddhism and psychotherapy. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Seiso Paul Cooper is a Transmitted and Ordained Soto Zen Buddhist priest & teacher, Psychoanalyst; Director and Head Priest: Two Rivers Zen Community in Narrowsburg, N.Y., and Realizational Studies Center in N.Y.C. Former Dean of Training: National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP); Faculty, training analyst, supervisor: NPAP, IEA, MITPP.
Address correspondence to Seiso Paul Cooper, P.O. Box 405, Narrowsburg, NY 12764, USA.
About this article
Cite this article
Cooper, S.P. REALIZATIONAL PERSPECTIVES: BION’S PSYCHOANALYSIS AND DOGEN’S ZEN. Am J Psychoanal 80, 37–52 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-020-09232-4