Robert Langan, PHD
Robert Langan, Ph.D. is a longtime Buddhist meditator and psychoanalyst who maintains a private practice in New York City. His interest in Buddhism began in college and led him to the Peace Corps in Nepal, where he developed a fascination with Tibetan culture. Torn between East and West, he pursued doctoral and post-doctoral training in Western psychology only to find it brought him once again to Buddhism. In his experience, each informs the other, and more importantly, can therapeutically inform the answers each of us enacts in deciding how best to live.
He is currently a training and supervising analyst, faculty and Fellow, at the William Alanson White Institute, where he has also served as Director of the Center for Applied Psychoanalysis and as Director of Curriculum. He was also book review editor of the journal Contemporary Psychoanalysis. He has spoken and published nationally and internationally for professional audiences, and for a more general readership written Minding What Matters: Psychotherapy and the Buddha Within (2006). He also serves on the board of the Siddhartha School, a preparatory school for local children in Ladakh, India.
"Imagine me up in a tree a twelve-year-old boy in his treehouse. It is not a house, however, nor even a platform, but several 2×2’s roughly parallel lashed and bolted 25 feet up in the Chinese elm where the big branches bifurcate into smaller, where the shimmering leaves enclose the empty space at the center of the tree in an orb of dappling green. He had discovered that he did not need a floor, that he could lie with a 2×2 under each shoulder blade and snug against his pelvis, his legs and arms dangling in the air, the back of his head against the rough bark of a leg-thick limb gently rocking his head with the breeze. The bough gently rolled his gaze side to side among the sun-dappled breathing leaves, leaf-sized bits of blue sky sparkling through, sparrows like thoughts flitting here and there, his body secure in warm mid-air swaying with the tree for hours. Imagine him up in a tree. Imaginary me.
Imagine a walker on a ramshackle bridge. It is a rope bridge with handspun ropes for handrails and ropes supporting narrow boards for the footpath. It sways only a few feet above the shallow ripple of the Vishnumati River, a wide river cupping Kathmandu to the east and to the west footing the singular temple hill of Swayambu Nath, where gilt depictions of the Buddha’s eyes gaze unblinkingly in four directions, seeing all at once. The walker stops. Overhead the first stars are out. The half-moon rising over the jagged mountains at the rim of the high mountain valley casts shadows. Shafts and pools of dark lie in the moon-lightened dark the sun has left. Upriver along the Kathmandu bank glow the charcoal pyres of the crematory burning ghats, smoke-shrouded corpses in the shadows. In the water of the river may be ashes, half-burnt bones. From the Swayambu side first far off, then nearer, comes fitful barking, snarling: a roving pack of scavenger wild dogs, dangerous to meet at night. The walker stops, listening, suspended.
Imagine the twelve-year-old boy, high in a Chinese elm. Imagine the walker on a ramshackle bridge. Imagine me. And you? Imagine you?”