In small groups reviewing learning so far.
The rest of the morning was taken with a lecture on the 18 dhatu sense bases and the five skandhas.
- The six senses each have an object, an organ and a power. 6x3=18 dhatu. In the six vijnana model these 18 are treated as the foundations of our mental life. The mind dots about from one to another as one or another takes priority. Certain patterns persist - there is a "stickyness" about experience - so the senses tend to visit and revisit the same places, but the world of experience is conceived of as wholly outside the mind.
- Later there developed the 8 vijnana model. To the six senses were added manas and the alaya. Manas is the mind's calculator. Alaya is the storehouse or accumulation. In this model the mind has contents and we can speak of an inner world and an outer world.
- The outer world is full of items that grab our attent, things that we "worship" either positively or negatively. These are rupa. Rupa can be distinguished from the things in themselves - dharma. The client's significant others are rupa. They grab and hold the attention.
- The skandha cycle explains the process by which we respond to rupa and develop vijnana. The immediate response to rupa is vedana, a visceral knowingness or reaction that is either positive (attraction) or negative (repulsion). This triggers us into a trance or routine of automatic feelings and behaviour that flow. This dynamic trance state is samjna. Such routines become habitual. They are internal formations (samskara). The accumulation of such routines shapes our mentality (vijnana). Vijnana can be thought of broadly as made up of intention and attention. The samskaras are intentional. These intentions determine what holds our attention. What holds our attention is rupa. Thus the cycle is closed.
- The therapist can see this cycle operating in big and small ways in the client. The significant other appears to the client's mind - rupa. One then immediately sees vedana and samsnj follow. This gives strong clues to the internal formations in the client's mind, thus enabling the therapist to imaginatively enter into the client's world and understand his vijnana which, in turn can tell why the rupa was significant in the first place.
- The same rupa may be positive in one context and negative in another. The "rupa-ness" is not an inherent quality of the object, it is a function of the constellation of conditions.
- A student discussed her own case, especially a lifelong habit of being unable to say no. This related to early personal history and we looked at different ways in which Buddhist theory might explicate the situation.
- In infancy, the baby is a powerful rupa for the mother and mother is an even more powerful rupa for the infant. All mothers have some ambivalence in their relation to the child, since even the most loved baby makes a lot of mess and keeps one awake at night. Equally, even in the case of an unwanted child there is likely to be some love because of the mothers maternal instinct. The mutual gaze thus sets up a variety of reciprocal effects which can later lead to various kinds of complexes.
- Questions about transference and counter-transference. There are two processes, the process that refer to the client's relation with the rupa in their life and the processes that refer to the clients relationship with the therapist. In the latter, the client is a rupa for the therapist and vice versa. Mostly, in therapy, the process of client in relation to their life rupas takes priority but sometimes the therapist-client relationship intrudes. The skills needed are, in essence, the same, but are more difficult to deploy because of our own self-investment. If one is free of self on has no problem, but this is easier to say than to actualise.
- A student reported that a three minute interaction she had had with me yesterday had made a big impression that had enabled her to do a good deal of work on her own after she went home from the class. This was interesting because the "session" had had very little content other than the establishment of a very open, permissive context. The conclusion is that therapy does not necessarily take a long time. If a process is activated, it goes on running and does its work. Activation may simply be a matter to creating the psychological space.
- What is the goal of therapy if it is not problem solving? The goal is liberation. We are unfree in many ways. Ultimately we can say the goal is liberation from self, but in practice we deal with specific manifestations of compulsiveness in our lives. Buddhist practice aims to diminish and eliminate compulseness.
Demonstration of small points. One minute sessions demonstrating how the client's visceral reactions, eye movements, posture, facial expression, etc already tell as story before anything has been said and as a subject is broached.
Work in threes. Counselling practice.
EMPTY CHAIR EXERCISE
with discussion in pairs, leading into groups of four,
one person becoming client and choosing a counsellor from the group.
Nice to have you on board.
Thank you for these posts Dharmavidya. I'm enjoying reading and learning about what's going on in the training.