November 8, 2013 · 5:42 pm
They say when you leave therapy, you start therapy. Soon after leaving therapy over a year ago, I started a new daily spiritual practice with a yogi, and was taught Hindu meditation, and also learned about energy located in the body-mind. Soon after this I felt drawn towards a local Thai buddhist temple, and began to practice traditional buddhist meditation, and studied the buddhist path or dharma. I felt that I had come home. The concepts of conditioning and attatchment in buddhist psychology were also fundamental in psychotherapy, inasmuch as they were basically saying the same thing. This new connection expanded on my ten years of psychotherapy practice as both are based on the natural law applied to the problem of human suffering. I was discovering more about my own path and a method or practice to bring me closer to my own reality and truth.
The next six months were spent meditating, studying and practising mindfulness and the buddhist path. Very quickly I noticed that I was happier, not indulging in short term pleasures, but longer term intentions of loving kindness towards myself and other beings. A light had been switched on inside me and I felt I had a life of purpose. Then, out of the blue and after 6 years of celibacy, I met someone – Or you could say our ego’s recognised each other. Immediately, we set sail on a passionate and lustful relationship which was exiting and fresh. Shortly after our relationship began, I attended a four day silent satsang with Mooji, and as if I was mean’t to hear it at that exact moment, he spoke about relationships and spirituality. I do not remember his exact words but he said something like; just as the true self begins to be recognised the ego embarks on a forceful attempt to sabotage this awareness by introducing it’s trump card – A relationship. Looking back my instinct was aware of this at the start of the relationship, but very subtly the ego managed to convince me otherwise, in a slow and subtle contamination of delusion in the mind.
Buddha said; Of all the worldly passions lust is the most intense. Our relationship was intense and tested both my partner and myself to breaking point. Vulnerability, power, dishonesty and continuous drama and reinnactments of past conditions, were draining us both of vital life energy, and sabotaging our personal inner peace and freedom. Both our wounds embound themselves in each other. Often I felt engulfed and trapped and I missed my precious inner connection that was seemingly fading out bit by bit like dying flames of a fire.
Intimate relationships can enable us to recognise and welcome the powerful opportunity to awaken to our deeper nature. They can bring us face to face with our gods and demons forging brutal honesty, awareness and equanimity. My relationship brought me to new crossroads where I faced a pivotal choice. Do I hold onto wishful fantasies and grasp outdated story lines, driven by my ego, or do I use the difficulties in my relationship to awaken compassion, wisdom and a dedication to inner truth. One cannot know this, one must be this and acknowledge this deeply within ones heart. Our on and off relationship was like a very long meditation, where I lost the connection with my breath – but now I have come back to it. Watching it slowly rise and fall. A chance to start again. The most powerful agent of growth and transformation is something much more basic than any technique: A change of heart. My heart grieves the loss of my true self and my ego grieves the loss of his mistress. From darkness into light, we behold the gift of peace.
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ~ R. M. Rilke
August 28, 2011 · 1:02 pm
In the film Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams plays the Psychologist and Matt Damon, the abused and genius patient, who needs help from his psychologist to find direction in his life. What is interesting in this film is that their relationship goes against the grain of orthodox Psychotherapy. We find the analyst disclosing parts of his own life in order to help the patient. He speaks of his wife’s cancer, his experiences of war, death and love, as well as the smaller things in life, which he feels are important. The therapist realises that this is the only way to get through to his patient and adapts his technique in order to heal. What they also have in common is their childhood physical abuse which is finally shared by both parties and accepted as ‘not their fault’. I always hoped that my therapy was shared in this way but I can also understand that this may be the ego’s way of gathering information from the therapist in order to sabotage the theraputic relationship.
In the Vajrayana Buddhist faith there is something called the Samaya bond. In Pema Chodrons words, “If the student accepts and trusts the teacher completely and the teacher accepts the student, they can enter into the unconditional relationship called Samaya. The teacher will never give up on the student no matter how mixed up he or she might be, and the student will also never leave the teacher, no matter what”. The basic premise of the teaching is to help the student realise that they are bound to reality already and that trying to get somewhere is useless as the student is already there. After time and acceptance of being with things as they are the students world becomes more vivid and transparent so he or she views the same world but with new eyes. “And this is a message that never gets interpreted. Things speak for themselves. It’s not that red cushion means passion, or little mouse darting in and out means discursive mind; it’s just red cushion and little mouse”. The important thing here is that the teacher and student have made a marriage of reality. One cannot leave the other so their enlightenment has to be shared.
In both cases the message is clear; Things are what they are and those things will never change unless our perceptions of those things change also. Our perceptions are mainly based on past emotional experiences and it is enlightening to be able to perceive something in a different way through a new relationship or a new set of reflective eyes. So these perceptions can be changed through love. Also in both cases, the student picks his master like ‘incarnation’ where a child supposedly chooses his or her parents and the master or therapist accepts the students invitation. Also in both cases continuous work has to be done, it needs to be sticked at. You can liken the loving relationship to polishing a mirror. As soon as you have polished it dust will start to settle again.
Often we can’t answer the question; “Is it right?”. We can however ask ;”Is it fruitful? ~ Christopher Clouder and Martin Rawson
Filed under My Experiences On The Couch
Tagged as Buddhist, counselling, master, Pema Chodron, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, psychotherapist, Psychotherapy, Samaya, student, therapeutic relationship, Vajrayana
August 23, 2011 · 5:40 pm
Like many of us, when I had my first taste of monstrous fear and anxiety, I began to read self help books. I took momentary soothing from these books, and at the time they enabled me to calm the storm of these serious life threatening emotions. But despite numerous searchings, and reading tons of these in vain, my fear still haunted and goaded me. In some ways I liken these books to my spiritual ‘O’ Levels as some of the basics were absorbed and have stayed with me ever since. Probably the best example of this would be in M Scott Peck’s ‘The Road Less Travelled’ when Mr. Peck states; “Life is hard”. That teaching is still very much with me on my personal journey.
The ‘self help’ industry is a multi million pound industry, and because the basic nature of ‘us’ wanting a quick fix, this is exactly why it is thriving. These books will not tell you to hold onto pain, they will advise you to skip over it or through it. It makes more sense to invite in what you usually avoid. For me these lessons were never born through books but were arrived at through legitimate suffering as I stayed with my fear and pain whenever I could manage to. Of course fear still grabs me by the throat, but starting with the body, I try to relax into it and know it for what is is, an emotion and a reaction to a conditioned thought of; ‘this may happen to you’! And what, ‘may happen to me’ … ‘The Truth’, thats what will happen. This is the false self or ego’s worst scenario because then it would loose control of ‘itself’.
I had always thought of myself as someone who is kind, flexible and loving but when confronted with this illusion I realised that I am not perfect and if I am not perfect I am continually letting myself down. I constantly invested into an image of myself that I could not live up to. When this was exposed to me, mainly with the help of therapy, I felt as if there was nothing, absolutely nothing, and at times I felt as if I was going to fall off the end of the world. If I didn’t have a story to cling to anymore, then who was I?
Currently I find myself between two schools of thought, one of Psychotherapy and one of Buddhism as they have so much in common. The problem is, as the title of this piece suggests, if ‘I think I’m a Buddhist’ isn’t that too a statement of ‘I’ and one of a fixed thought.. that ‘I’ am somebody. Bomb’s keep continually dropping.
It is possible to live in peace ☮ ~ Mahatma Gandhi