This lecture established the importance of encounter in the Buddhist tradition. In the stories of great masters, most became enlightened as a result of an inter-personal encounter. The sutras are full of accounts of encounters between Buddha and enquirers. Encounter is a practice and may be a more effective practice than meditation. Probably more people have had their lives changed by a brief encounter than by a brief meditation. This illustrates the importance, but also the difficulty. We are all used to meetings with other people that are not the least bit enlightening and may even deepen our delusion. There is general collusion to preserve the cultural conserve. This is not inappropriate in ordinary social situations. This means that learning therapy is to a large extent a matter of unlearning habits of communication that are already well established.
We then looked at a list of characteristics drawn from the early part of the "Ease in Practice" chapter of the Lotus Sutra:
Perseverence * Gentleness * Tranquility * Non-violence * Fearlessness * Non-manipulation * Seeing things as they are in an unbiassed way.
Each of these can repay deep examination as qualities that conduce to greater effectiveness in therapy.
To discuss the lecture and integrate new members with the group.
The client talked about having a habit of arriving late which she wants to change. We explored her resistance to change and what might be driving this in her life. She shared a story from the past of a significant incident involving her father.
- the therapist is interested in understanding the situation rather than changing it. The client may change it if she wishes. The therapist explores the status quo, its precedents, the motivations present and the tension in the present constellation.
- the fact that the presenting issue seems not a deeply serious problem makes no difference to the care with which one addresses it. One never knows what is behind the initial starting point or hidden within it.
- the therapist tries to sustain the tension in the situation as presented.
- the therapist avoids letting the dialogue become one of intellectual discussion about the issue.
CONTINUATION OF FEEDBACK
- avoid encouraging the client in what seems to be a positive direction or the direction that the client has indicated. The motivation must come from the client not from the therapist. The therapist does not actually know what the universe requires of this client and to assume that one does is to play God. It is likely to be counter-productive. The therapist honours the client as is, including the motivation that the client has to change, but this does not extend to then concluding that the client therefore should change. As soon as one buys into the idea that the client should change one has stopped fully accepting them as they are.
- it is important not to overlook the transference. In this particular case, there was an issue about whether to do what father wanted or not. If the therapist had adopted an authoritative role in any degree he would have been replicating the original problem and thereby complicating the emotional situation of the therapy. The client doing something in order to please the therapist is analogous to doing something to please father. One would thus become enmeshed in the same dynamic.
- the fact that the client is talking about an issue itself tells us that there is some doubt or ambivalence. If matters were clear and certain the client would already have settled the matter. If the client says that she wants to change from A to B we cannot take this as certainly the right course. There must be some doubt. The therapist's task includes bring out and honouring that doubt. Great doubt, great enlightenment!
The client talked about feeling that she was half-hearted in her relationships and took refuge in keeping to a role, going through the motions, but not really engaging. This was illustrated by her relationship with in-laws. We did some actions work exploring closeness and distance.
- action work serves to dramatise and therefore intensify a situation, but the therapeutic principles remain the same.
- when the client talks about an issue in general terms, as, for instance, describing how she is in relationships generally, it may help to concretise the matter by looking at one specific relationship or one specific instance of what is being described.
- the essential thing is that the client works on her issue and has the space and safety to do so. Sometimes the important thing for the therapist to do is simply to get out of the way or to indicate by restraint that the client will have the opportunity to explore what she needs to. When the client clearly is going through a process that has emotional energy the therapist will be attentive but not overly interventive.
- the therapist can be directive in terms of the process but not the content. When introducing structures into the process it is important to be even-handed. Thus, if the client is directed to explore how it is to be closer to a significant rupa then it is usually important to also explore what it is like being further away. The therapist avoids pressuring the client to go one way rather than the other. It may be tempting to press for a “happy ending” but this may not be realistic.
- the client may need some time to reflect upon the work done, but not too much. There is no need to wrap everything up in the session.
- it is not possible to deal with every life issue in one session. Sometimes one has to acknowledge an area of work but set it aside. eg. So today we can look at the relationship with your sister and we can see that there is also an issue with your husband, but we’ll need to keep that for another session.
- the therapist is careful to be warmly non-judgemental, not only as regards the client, but also in relation to third parties.
Sharing any personal matters brought up be observing the work today.