The Way of Silence and the Talking Cure

On Meditation and Psychotherapy

Claudio Naranjo, M.D.

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ISBN: 1-57733-140-0, 308 pp., 5.5 x 8.5, paperback, $17.95

Part I presents a theoretical and inter-disciplinary account of the of the classical forms of meditation. Chapters 1 and 2 tackle meditation from a trans-cultural and trans-systemic perspective, while Chapter 3 brings a similar perspective to bear on the issue of the subtle physiology of meditation and the transformation of the body in the course of the individual's spiritual evolution.

Part II considers the common ground between meditation and therapy - ranging from a theoretical understanding of the meditation/ therapy interface to the formulation of a solitary retreat methodology.

Part III, comprising a single chapter in seven sections, offers a panorama of the classical forms of meditation in the different spiritual traditions.

The integrative attitude conveyed throughout the book serves as an antidote to excessively sectarian tendencies and draws attention to the fundamental issues that underlie well known and specific forms of meditation and psychotherapy. It will be of interest to seekers, helpful to people-helpers and an inspiration to those in social situations ranging from self-help groups to educational initiatives.


"Dr. Claudio Naranjo, a consciousness pioneer, has written the authoritative text for the clinician who seeks to understand, not only experience, the range of meditations available at this time. Having experienced these contemplative states and processes, he applies the tools of introspection and communication to help the helping professional understand this elusive field. The book makes a substantial and inspiring contribution to the theory of both therapy and meditation." Prof. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, World Wisdom Chair, Naropa Institute.

"Claudio is a unique and skilled diamond cutter, one of the best. From shapeless lumps of things spiritual, anthropological, psychological, economic, cultural he brings forth flawless gems of exceptional clarity. When he shapes a diamond of thought it becomes clear, beautiful to behold, a treasure. Let us not be confounded by the wisdom of this world. Claudio is able to pare away the extraneous, the outer garments that hide the truth, and to reveal the essence within. He makes each facet clear and then reveals their unity as an integrated sparkling whole." Rev. John Weaver, D.D., L.M., O.B.E, former Archdeacon of Grace Cathedral and retired Board Member of The U.S. Club of Rome Association

"Numerous figures - from C. G. Jung, D. T. Suzuki and Erich Fromm in the first half of the twentieth century, to Alan Watts, Sudhir Kakar and Gananath Obeyesekere in the second - have noted and explored the profound resonances between Western forms of Western psychotherapy and various Asian contemplative, mythological and mystical traditions. But few have actually acted on these deep cross-cultural insights as fully as Claudio Naranjo. Naranjo has spent his entire adult life pursuing, in both theory and practice, what he calls the One Quest, that psycho-spiritual search which takes countless cultural forms but is always, fundamentally, about both the morphing human psyche and the transfigured human body. We are very fortunate to have now, with The Way of Silence and the Talking Cure, a record of Naranjo's mature theorization of both this life and this work." Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Rice University

"[Naranjo's] contribution to the scientific understanding of meditation consists primarily in his original approach to the topic - which is as innovative, unique, ingenious and systematic as already germinally proposed in his earlier work on meditation and psychotherapy." Mirko Fryba (Bhikkhu Kusalananda), Forest Hermitage, Kandy, Sri Lanka

"Claudio Naranjo, M.D., a major disciple of Gestalt psychotherapist Fritz Perls and leading theoretician of the psychology of meditation, has distilled in this book work of over four decades as a psychiatrist, innovator in the contemporary application of the practices of various of the world's great wisdom traditions as part of the great twentieth-century Human Potential Movement, and professor of comparative religion, music, psychiatry and humanistic psychology. This book, The Way of Silence and the Talking Cure, will make fascinating and stimulating not-to-be-missed reading for all those interested in the worlds of religious-spiritual teachings and the most creative innovations in psychotherapy of the past half century." Mitchell Ginsberg, Ph.D., author, The Inner Palace, co-moderator of the Chishtiyya Sufi on-line discussion group

Table of Contents

FOREWORD: Transforming Mind by Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche
PREFACE by Bhikkhu Kusalananda
INTRODUCTION: On Meditation and Psychotherapy

1. By Way of Definition: The Realm of Meditation
2. Dimensions and Essence of Meditation
3. Body Awareness and "Subtle Energies" in Spiritual Development
4. The Interface Between Meditation and Psychotherapy

5. Meditation-in-Relation
6. Self-knowledge through Free Association in a Meditative Context: A Therapeutic and Educational Proposal
7. Music as Meditation and Therapy

8. Forms of Meditation



At the beginning of the sixties Northrop pointed to the meeting of East and West as one of the most important historical phenomena of our time. Since the thought was voiced, the process has become only more striking, and one of its manifestations has been the keen interest of psychologists (and, more broadly, psychologically minded people) in the Eastern spiritual teachings. This, in turn, reflects a spiritualization of psychotherapy that may well have constituted the main root of the geo-cultural phenomenon of an East-West meeting.

Such spiritualization itself has been the result of a long process through which the therapeutic enterprise has become self-conscious of its ethical and spiritual dimensions and shifted away from the "medical model." First the ethical implications of psychotherapy came into view, then the spiritual aspects of the process became obvious enough for many today to be convinced that the psychological and spiritual dimensions of growth are two facets of a single event.

As it was inevitable in the evolution of Western thinking that rational intellect came to acknowledge its limitations, it was inevitable in dynamic psychotherapy too, that there would arise an awareness of its limits; and it was only natural that Western seekers began turning to the East for an expert guidance that during earlier decades had not seemed relevant.

What is true of our culture is true of many of us individually, and my own work has reflected my own experiences as a seeker. "Meditation and Psychotherapy" has been my banner since Esalen Institute invited me in the sixties to work in my own way, and that "got me going." Little by little, the curriculum of those workshops became the core structure of my later work-a transpersonal training of therapists and educators gravitating around meditation, self-insight and authentic communication. In view of a long dedication to the subject, it has only been natural that I have gone far beyond simply recommending to patients that they meditate and re-wording traditional methods. Thus in the second part of this book I offer a theoretical understanding of the relation between meditation and psychotherapy, and share some of my contributions to the integration between the two domains.

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2006

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