The institute exists primarily to foster the study and practical application of Buddhist psychology. To this end ITZI brings together educators, leaders of Dharma centres and educational establishments, students, therapists, practitioners and scholars, together with those who may support their activities and work. The institute is an exercise in co-operation. It has no buildings. Courses are offered on-line and through the centres of ITZI associated groups and organisations. The institute is concerned to see its members flourish both in their own specialist activities and as contributors to the common work of bringing Buddhist psychology to the attention of the contemporary world.
Topics & Orientation
The founding members of the institute were from Pureland and Zen Buddhism but the institute now includes members from many different Buddhist denominations and spiritual orientations. ITZI courses are not all presented from the same orientation or perspective. Debate, discussion, careful examination of principles and the stimulus that comes from bringing contrasting viewpoints into juxtaposition are valued.
Buddhism as a psychology and therapy
Buddhist psychology derives from the theories and ideas of Buddha recorded in the sutras, developed in the Abhidharma and commentaries and represented in the modern world by leading scholars and teachers. From these principles a range of psychotherapeutic approaches can be developed. In this respect the work of Dr. David Brazier and his associates has provided the institute with a key starting point.
There have already been many attempts to integrate Western and Buddhist psychology and to propose therapeutic applications. The current widespread interest in mindfulness is an example. In some integrations Buddhist techniques and methods are used to operationalise or apply essentially Western thinking. Others go deeper into Buddhist principles and might integrate Western psychological methods into a Buddhist paradigm. The task of generating genuinely Dharmic forms of therapy is a perennial concern at the institute.
The Wider Culture
While, as just mentioned, achieving more depth is an important concern, it is also the case that Buddhist culture is wider than simply psychology and the psychology is set within that broader matrix. We therefore also see an important place for studies in Dharmic pastoral care, social development, history, art, philosophy and lifestyle. We expect the range of courses and activities offered or sponsored by ITZI to increase steadily as we find more and better ways to exploit the huge potential that exists through bringing such a talented group of people together.