1st workshop : 30th July to 3rd August - 5days
Most Precious Relationship
Sometimes the relationship between a client and therapist is practical and instrumental. Sometimes it is deep and personal. Sometimes the therapist is providing a technical service and the client is just a customer. Sometimes, however, the relationship with the therapist becomes, for a time, an important (or even the most important) relationship in the client’s life. Sometimes it is the relationship that is keeping the client from suicide. The depth of trust depends upon conditions. A level is established naturally, but it is important that the therapist provide the conditions for this to happen in an optimum way. Thus there is a great responsibility upon the therapist to create conditions where the appropriate level can be found and sustained for the necessary period. Life can be viewed as a network of relationships and generally people seek stability in their relationship constellation. However, the therapy relationship is different in being intentionally time limited and catalytic rather than permanent. Relationships have many degrees of intensity and different qualities. In therapy we can distinguish the different types of relationships that form and the different effects that these can have upon the life of the client. These relationship mirror the relationships that the client has in ordinary life, from the most instrumental to the most intimate. In the spiritual life too, relations within a sangha or between a master and disciple may take on a similar constellation of forms. In this workshop we shall look at the therapeutic relationship from a number of different perspectives and at how it interacts with the past, present and future family, friendship and other relationships of the client, creating the conditions for personal growth, transformation and liberation.
2nd workshop: 6th August to 10th August - 5days
Entering the Cave of Vijñana
The client says, “I know what I should do, but something stops me.” Why do we defeat ourselves? Do we really know why we makes the life choices we do? Usually not. We rationalise after the event. Therapy explores matters hidden within the psyche of the client. When the word vijñana is translated as “consciousness” in Buddhist books, this is somewhat misleading. “Consciousness” suggests the material that one is fully aware of. When Buddha talks about vijnaña he is talking about levels of the mind of which we only have partial awareness, or no awareness at all. In life we have to take many things for granted and we build up a store or repertoire of ways of dealing with the world. In Western psychology this is sometimes called the “frame of reference”. Entering the client’s storehouse is like going into a cave. We take a little light, but we are surrounded by darkness. The cave is full of samskaras - patterns, expectations, karmic seeds, old scores, habits, superstitions and archtypes. We can mostly only tell what is going on by induction. We do not have direct perception, but can discern the client’s way of approaching life and intuitively enter into an empathic understanding that gives some feel for what is happening deeper down. Sometimes the job of therapy is to bring these hidden contents up into the light of consciousness, but usually doing so is not healing in itself and is never a permanent solution. The deeper mind needs to be able to function without interference in its mysterious ways, but when it is creating trouble, some change has to be sought and this is the job of therapy and spiritual growth. It is not sufficient to know the right way to behave: many people know what they should do, but do not do it. There are stronger forces at work than the merely conscious and rational and this is why Buddha talks about vijñana. In this workshop we shall examine these fundamental aspects of therapy and seek skilful mans to bring about healthy change in ourselves and others.
3rd workshop: 13th to 16th August - 4days
Four days of therapy demonstration and reflection. Participants should be willing to discuss their own lives, interact with the therapist and be willing for these interactions to be discussed by the participant group. This is a workshop primarily for people with some experience of psychotherapy, preferably both in the role of therapist and client. Participants should have attended at least one of Dr. Brazier’s courses previously. There will be opportunity to discuss the fine points of the therapy process on the basis of live examples. This is an excellent way to learn and to develop one’s therapeutic intuition. The art of therapy cannot be mastered merely by imitation, but we can learn from observing the example of others, just as an apprentice learns at the side of the master but then must go and be a master him or herself and produce unique work. Again, no two pieces of therapy are identically the same. Thus we are learning to appreciate the art, not merely the techniques. People are not machines: they grow and develop in meaningful ways. Each is on his or her spiritual journey, yet we are, in another sense, all in this together. In the histories of the great Buddhist masters, it was generally a significant encounter that brought about their illumination. Only when we open our heart to another can we heal and be healed.
Dr David Brazier, English Buddhist teacher, President of International Zen therapy Institute, is a doctor of philosophy in Buddhist psychology. He lectures internationally on Buddhism, psychology and psychotherapy. He is the author of ten published books with another in press. His best known books are Zen Therapy and The Feeling Buddha. His next book is a detailed analysis of the text Genjo Koan, by Japanese Zen Master Dogen. Dr. Brazier lives in semi-retreat in a remote part of France but spends part of each year travelling, teaching and giving personal consultations. In addition to his psychotherapeutic work, he has been an innovator in the fields of social aid and of mental health in a number of countries, including refugee aid in India, post-war rehabilitation in Bosnia and a number of initiatives for psychiatric patients and deprived youth in Britain. He has been a founder of spiritual communities and is the head of the Amida Shu, a Pureland Buddhist order practising devotion to Amitabha Buddha.