Ronald Sharrin began studying at the Los Angeles Zen Center in 1969 after receiving a B.A. from Reed College in 1967. In 1976 he received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology after completing a dissertation on using Buddhism as a framework for psychotherapy. Since then he has been a practicing clinician in psychotherapy, working to deepen his understanding of the relationships between Buddhist contemplative practice, Buddhist psychology, and psychotherapy.
Dr. Sharrin’s approach to psychotherapy is based on an understanding of the relationship between therapist and client as being primarily one of inquiry. This is an experiential, in-depth examination of the ways in which both individuals enter into and engage in an examination of how experience is constructed in the here and now in ways that lead to both suffering and to happiness. Rather than adopting a medical model in which “treatment” is offered in order to “cure” the patient, this is more of a dialogue with its roots in the philosophical traditions of both Socrates and the Buddha. Experience is looked at as it arises in the relationship, how it is sustained, how it disappears, and how new experience arises. The principle of “sinking-in and staying with” what is happening can lead to an opening to different mind states and a deepening understanding of how one’s mind works.
Dr. Sharrin studied with Maezumi Roshi at the LA Zen Center from 1969 to 1976. He also studied Dzogchen with Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche from 1994 to 2000, and was the West Coast coordinator for the Ligmincha Institute during that time. He has also studied Ch’an and Daoism with Steven Tainer. In 2000 he received an M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He also taught courses on Buddhism and Buddhist Psychology for CSPP/Alliant Extension, at Antioch University and at UCLA Extension.
Since his graduation from college, Dr. Sharrin has been engaged in trying to locate both differences and similarities between Western psychology and Buddhism, and how the convergence between these two systems can be put to practical use. He sees this as the beginnings of what is likely to be a 500 year cultural project for the West, one which has begun only within the last 50 years. In the course of this exploration he has come to realize that some very promising convergences may be found in the Pre-Socratic Greek tradition, and is currently studying Socratic dialogue and Western philosophical thought along with Buddhist psychology and philosophy.