Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Clinical Psychology, Buddhadharma, or Both? A Wisdom Perspective

  • David J. LewisEmail author
  • Deborah Rozelle
Part of the Mindfulness in Behavioral Health book series (MIBH)


Incorporating elementary meditation techniques inspired by Buddhist practices, mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are group-based programs of psychoeducation and self-help skills in behavioral medicine and clinical psychology. MBIs are increasingly employed as aftercare and adjunct care to professional medical and psychological treatments for specific maladies and also for self-care, general emotional well-being, and other psychological goals. Despite their psychological character and eclectic content only partly inspired by and derived from Buddhadharma, MBIs have increasingly acquired an alternate identity as a form of Buddhadharma itself, as the essence of Buddhadharma recontextualized for the mainstream of society. We critique the claim that MBIs embody the essence of Buddhadharma. They do not aim at the goals of Buddhadharma and do not engage the vital wisdom that leads there. MBIs pursue relief of psychological suffering rather than the transcendental roots that Buddhadharma posits. This places MBIs squarely within clinical psychology and not at all as a form of Buddhadharma, despite their use of meditation. Instead of Buddhadharma’s essence, however, MBIs do embody important aspects of its form and structure, translated to a very different ontological level. We show this with a methodology of functional and structural analogy that correlates MBIs with deeper strata of Buddhadharma than usual and promotes mutually fruitful dialogue. The relationship based on form and structure has been largely missed thus far because of two factors, both addressed by the analogical methodology: preoccupation with either showing or disproving essential identity and difficulty accepting many assumptions and beliefs of traditional Buddhadharma on their own terms.


Mindfulness MBIs Buddhism Buddhadharma Meditation Analogy Wisdom MBSR MBCT Psychology 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Trauma and Contemplative PracticeLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Clinical PsychologistLexingtonUSA

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