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Bruce Tift on the Interface Between Psychology and Spirituality

Join the esteemed author Bruce Tift in a cross-pollinating discussion about the interface between psychology and spirituality, the developmental and fruitional paths, or the paths of Growing Up and Waking Up respectively. Bruce discusses the importance of holding opposing, and even contradictory, views simultaneously, without any hope or desire for closure and resolution. We’re all a collection of limitations, so how can we best work with these limits? What constitutes a real obstacle in this view, and how can we work with obstacles? What about the difference between “recovery practices” and “achievement practices”? The conversation turns to the distraction value of our problems, and how ego, as an arrested form of development, is invested in maintaining struggle as a way to maintain itself. Bruce then talks about anxiety and fear, and the importance of an integral approach in relating to both. Not all fear and anxiety is problematic.

On the spiritual path, anxiety can lead to real growth, and fear can be a sign that you’re doing something right. How about the place of shadow work, and why doesn’t Bruce favor that term? How do we best work with blind spots? The practice of relationship is explored, and how we unwittingly “hire” partners, over and over, to play out unconscious processes and avoidant tendencies. How does he sustain his enthusiasm for providing therapy after decades of clinical practice? Does Buddhism need therapy – in both senses of that phrase? Is his view exhilarating or intimidating? Bruce’s wide-ranging approach gives you permission to be human, and to delight in this wonderful and terrible thing we call life. See for yourself why he is one of the most sought-after therapists in the spiritual community.

About Bruce Tift (from
Bruce Tift, MA, LMFT, has been in private practice since 1979, taught at Naropa University for twenty-five years, worked in a psychiatric ward and as a family therapist with social services, and has given presentations in the United States, Mexico, and Japan and has made remote presentations in the UK, Korea, and Thailand. His book has recently been translated into Thai.

In his twenties he traveled for two years by motor- cycle in Europe, North Africa, and overland to India and Nepal. He has worked as a laborer, clerk, postal worker, longshoreman, painter, school bus driver, paper mill worker, miner, and truck driver.

A practitioner of Vajrayana Buddhism for more than forty years, he had the good fortune to be a student of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and to meet a number of realized teachers. He and his wife, Reva, are now empty-nesters living in California.

Inside the Podcast
Bruce’s background.
Holding contradictory views without taking sides.
The relationship of psychology and spirituality to spirituality.
How do you look at blind spots in the brain?
How can we become more aware of our blind spots?
Meditation vs. habituation to openness.
Living in the experience of freedom.
How life can actually be better.
The distraction value of our problems.
What does enlightenment look like?
Recovery practices vs. achievement practices.
Training ourselves to have a relationship with anxiety.
Using anxiety and fear as indicators of truth.
The only thing that exists.
How to create boundaries in your relationship.
Reducing the complexity of life.
If it doesn’t fit.
Buddhism as a religion vs. spiritual path.
The relationship of self-absorption to depression.
Why am I so miserable?

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