Praise for The Zen Impulse and the Psychoanalytic Encounter
"What a gift for me to be able to read in depth both your works; you seem to have an ability (quite
scarce in the psychoanalytic world and Buddhism) to synthesize in a clear moving way disparate
content and vectors. I have been waiting of this kind of work for years! Fortunately, you
deconstruct/chastise the same things that I feel need purifying out of psychoanalysis and thought &
practice. Such skillful writing is a delight."
-Sojin Diane Martin, Roshi, Abbot, Udumbara Zen Center, Evanston, Illinois & Indian Creek Zen
retreat Center, Wedron, IL.
"Scholarly, clinical, personal - a profound blend and probe of the inner workings of Zen and
psychoanalysis by an experienced practitioner of both. Not just differences and similarities, but deep
ways these two practices need and nourish each other, bring each other out in their own rights and as
an ongoing interweaving that opens the human spirit in ways neither could do alone. An important
contribution to the interaction of Buddhism and psychoanalysis, with many threads to pull on and doors
- Michael Eigen, Ph.D.,
"Illuminates the many connections that exist between the two fields. He ably explicates the “Zen
impulse” and its relationship to religious experience, emphasizing its connection with awe and the
necessary contrast between relativism and the absolute. He shows the differences as well as the
common ground that exists between psychoanalysis and Zen. Ultimately what they have in common is
the respect for Man’s being able to experience his being, his I-ness. One of the impediments standing
in the way from this lies in the problem of language. Man must transcend his endeaded language, a
language that has been captured by the need to own the experience as opposed to the more fluid
language of experience which must always be set free, in other words, remain a living language of
being. For me, reading this work was like being pulled into a Zen reverie and being able not only to
experience the awe of it but also to experience a new existential camera angle on psychoanalysis.
This is a wonderful book about a wondrous subject."
- James S. Grotstein, M.D.,
"In this book Paul Cooper brings a lifetime of experience as psychoanalyst and Zen practitioner to
trumpet with Bion a clarion call for a psychoanalysis that puts being before knowing. He refuses to let
mindfulness be reduced to an adjunctive technique. He argues that its capacity to open to the
unknowable is a necessary saving grace. Needed more than ever are the radical transformations both
Zen and psychoanalysis can engender to affect profoundly for the better how people live their lives.
Cooper advocates the disciplines' shared attention to attention, and further, an attention to
inattention better able to foster unconscious communication. This is a book that dares to turn up the
heat under a vitalizing controversy in the field."
- Robert Langan, Ph.D.
"Paul Cooper’s The Zen Impulse and the Psychoanalytic Encounter is a psychological and spiritual tour
de force, rendered by a man who knows from personal and professional experience whereof he speaks.
A psychoanalyst, a practicing Zen Buddhist and a prolific writer, Cooper reverses Freud’s negative
valuation of religion and demonstrates the parallel and potentially mutually enhancing processes of
psychoanalytic and Zen Buddhist soteriologies. Even more importantly, whereas many books have been
written regarding the relationship between psychoanalysis and Buddhism, this book excels in its
articulation of the degree to which both practices have an essentially common core. It is a gift freely
given by one who has himself made the inward journey of which he writes."
- Robert Gunn, Ph.D.,
"Amidst an abundance of books available relating Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, there is one book that
stands above them all. Paul Cooper’s Zen Impulse and the Psychoanalytic Encounter is extraordinary in
its ability to reflect upon and integrate the essential themes and impulses shared by these two
disciplines. Zen Impulse is a book so rich and comprehensive in scope that writing a review honoring
its complexity is an exceedingly daunting project. Cooper’s approach is different. It is boldly ambitious
in scope, while simultaneously being a deeply personal revelation reflecting his years of experience as
both a psychoanalyst and Zen practitioner. Paul Cooper not only reviews these transformative
disciplines in this volume, he also seems to implicitly invite his readers to explore more deeply their
own subjectivities along with that of their students and patients. This endeavor, in short, becomes a
mutual one. In fact, Cooper seems to invite all readers to join him on this transformative journey—
embracing the Zen impulse and its myriad manifestations."
- Melvin Miller, Ph.D., Journal of Religion and Health
"Paul Cooper is uniquely positioned to write with extensive theoretical and experiential knowledge of
both disciplines, with an exquisite sensibility and depth of understanding. With his specialized
background in both psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism, he creates a pathway for the reader to
appreciate both the uniqueness of each discipline and their resonance and affinity with each other.. . an
eye-opening exploration of the meaning and pragmatics of the mindful, observed life."
- Merle Molofsky, American Journal of Psychoanalysis
Dear Dr. Cooper,
"I'm just reading your Zen Impulse book and enjoying it so much. It is really subtle and profound, and
represents both Zen and psychoanalysis at their best and most true. I've read many books and
articles on Buddhism and psychoanalysis and most fall flat; thank you so much for preserving the
-Megan Rundel, PhD, Psychoanalytic Institute of Northern Calfornia
Cooper's use of Matte-Blanco to integrate the spiritual into humanistic phenomenology –– oﬀers to
ground much of the otherwise ‘airy-fairy’ notions of spirituality presently circulating within
psychotherapy. . . . a stimulating and provocative book
- Steve Nolan, Psychodynamic Practice
"Paul Cooper has written a book full of insight and caring. Scholarly yet accessible to laypersons and
practitioners alike, it is essential reading for those interested in the encounter between Zen and
- William Parsons, Ph.D.
"Paul Cooper understands exquisitely the common ground of psychoanalysis and Buddhist psychology.
Though their use of words is often quite different (ego, attachment), each opens up to a ground of
being that transcends the bells and whistles of this concrete, conscious world. Cooper's exploration is
free of jargon or any of the annoying qualities of the "true believer."
-Thomas Wagner, National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis