Brilliant Emotions: Great Agony, Great Promise – True Stories from a Buddhist Psychotherapist

Paul Cashman

Publisher: Naropa University Pages: 152 Price: (paperback) $14.99 ISBN: 9798870601731 Reviewed: April, 2024 Author Website: Visit »

In Brilliant Emotions, therapist Paul Cashman shares how he treats his patients’ emotional suffering with a combination of Western psychotherapy and ancient Buddhist wisdom.

Over Cashman’s years as a psychotherapist, addiction counselor, and lecturer, he translated a Tibetan Buddhist practice called the Four Karmas into a Four-Step Practice to help others learn how to find the positive in negative emotions. By “touching in to, exploring, befriending, and liberating” negative emotions, anyone can “uncover the wisdom contained within emotion” and “discover their basic goodness or enlightened energy.”

Cashman investigates various emotions in each chapter, exploring through patients he has treated, how to, among other challenges, turn anxiety into courage, jealousy into empowerment, and inadequacy into dignity. Throughout, he explores Buddhist beliefs such as nonviolence (which one must extend to oneself as well as others), compassion, and “enlightened laziness” (or not trying too hard).

Cashman is a gentle leader with the ability to distill a complex philosophy into comforting plain English; for example, he writes: “Our brilliant sanity and basic goodness are more fundamental, more rooted in us than is our confusion.” He explains the Four-Step Practice thoroughly up front and reinforces it at the end of each chapter with questions and thoughts for reflection. For people with less time or who need immediate relief, he has even boiled it down to a Two-Step Practice.

He includes a wide variety of patients with issues readers can identify with, such as addiction, excessive worry, anger management, the aftermath of trauma, the frustrations of relationships, and more. There’s some monotony in seeing the same four steps repeated from chapter to chapter; however, it’s not necessary to read the book cover to cover. Once readers understand the four steps, they can turn to the chapter about the emotion that’s bedeviling them in the moment.

With Brilliant Emotions, it’s not hard to believe that relief is just four short steps away.

Also available as an ebook.

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