Therapy demonstration - points arising
- When client is equally divided between significant objects this constitutes a dilemma. Sometimes the client has to choose. The client may come to the therapist saying "Choose for me?" or "How do I choose?" but the point hidden behind this is the client's reluctance to choose and even a sense that he should not have to choose.
- This is a kind of koan: "Why has the universe put me in this uncomfortable position?"
- The dilemma is conditioned by the nature of this world: one can only be in one place at a time; also, impermanence: the urgency of the dilemma increases with the passage of time.
- There are different levels to the client's concern:
(a) The superficial level is concern for self: what do I stand to lose?
(b) The more profound level is the love investment that the client has in the objects: I don't want them to be hurt
(c) At a more profound level still, the spirit/heart of the client is trying to do something in this life.
- The role of the therapist is not that of collecting enough information to be able to make the decision for the client, nor is it to advise the client how to make the decision in a practical way.
- The first responsibility is to keep the object sharply in focus and in this type of case that means to sharpen the dilemma and show appreciation of its seriousness and of what is at stake - even to increase the stakes.
- The therapist is then touched by the pathos of the situation and the heroism of the client. It is important that this empathy is communicated to the client by the therapist's manner and words.
- In this way the client is induced to look into his own heart.
- When the client is "working" i.e. trying to explore deeper, the therapist simply has to support this process and follow, giving impetus now and again. This is an intense, concentrated role since timing is all important. The therapist must flow with the rhythm of the client, being aware of the rise and fall of energy, the degree of engagement.
- It is not just a matter of putting the question back to the client, it is also a matter of exploring what is behind the question and what is the bigger picture.
- The therapist is a friend of the client's heart. The therapist's own heart is with the client. Sharing the pathos of life together in the therapeutic space, intuitions come.
Several Practice Work sessions
Basic Philosophy of this approach
The drama of life is love and its disappointment. In most cases we can say the client comes in order to have a scale removed from his heart. The scale got put there by a love disappointment. It might be love of a parent or of a partner or of a child or of an idea or some other abstract or concrete thing, but the encasing of the heart comes from love's rejections. This then manifests as greed (the attempt to get something to fill the gap left by the object), hate (the attempt to get revenge for the disappointment) or delusion (the pretense of independent power that denies love). Each of these three poisons can appear in reverse form – delusion as the pretense of powerlessness, hate as passive aggression with a sweet face, greed as the pose of abstemiousness. All of these are reactions to the difficulty of the journey of love in the world of impermanent conditions. We can say, therefore, that the challenge of life is how to love again... and again, even in the face of repeated disappointment. The answer to this has to be a function of faith and acceptance, faith that despite surface appearance all is, at some deeper level, working out as it should, and, therefore, acceptance of what comes along, acceptance that permits each occurrence to become a new love object.
However, we are ordinary beings with ordinary foibles. Our faith is not total and we are not all accepting. It helps to believe that there are beings (Buddhas) who do realise such a goal, but we need also to acknowledge that we ourselves fall well short. Realising our own weakness we are able to have fellow-feeling for one another. This realisation and this feeling are the basis of wisdom and compassion. Thus it is wise in both the spiritual and the worldly sense to humble oneself. Such humility should be grounded in a realistic assessment of the situation. It comes from observing the evidence of life. A mere pose is not sufficient.
Here, of course, we enter into the difficult circularity of our situation – how can such a being as oneself ever be completely genuine? It is inconceivable. This is the circular problem of samsara – the attempt of a deluded being to be enlightened is bound to be deluded. We cannot pull ourselves up by our own power. Only by accepting our powerlessness and admitting our own humanity will we rise. Yet this condition of powerlessness is also the condition of true love. True love is not controlling. Nor is it for any extrinsic reward. It is for nothing. Truth and beauty are also like this. They are "just so" (tatha). One who comes from that position is tatha-agata.
The lecture presented the skandha theory:
Rupa - the significant object
Vedana - the reaction based upon one's "knowledge" or recognition of the object
Samjna - the resulting entrancement
Samskare - the proliferation of "stories" around the experience
Vijnana - the resulting mentality that distorts reality and thereby generates new rupas
thus closing the circle. Illustrations were given and the group then broke up into small groups to digest this material and look at illustrations in own lives.