The first workshop of this visit to Israel took place today. I met with a score or more of psychotherapists for what was billed as a masterclass to discuss psychotherapy cases from the perspective of Buddhist psychology. The workshop took place in a private house which was quite amply spacious for the group and comfortable. We were well hosted.
The workshop was quite challenging for many of the people who attended because it advanced ideas that were at odds with the current modes of practice of many present, as also with some of the popular perceptions of Buddhism, but it went down well giving rise to much thought and discussion. I presented the idea of a non-self psychology where the focus is upon discerning the truth of the other and achieving spiritual maturity. One achieves liberation for oneself by releasing others from the attachment generated by one's own deluded and stereotypical perception of them. The self-construct is the mirror image of these false views of others. To see the truth of the other is to release them and thereby, incidentally, to release oneself from one's self-construct.
I distanced myself from ideas of inter-dependence and present-moment-ism, which I do not believe to be accurate interpretations of the message of Shakyamuni while showing the efficacy of an approach that understands the principles of conditioning, particularly the dependency of the mind upon its significant objects. Issues of grief, narcissism and maturity were prominent in the discussion. I also talked of how, from a Buddhist perspective, high and low self-esteem are equally pernicious and are so in proportion to the tenacity with which the self-concept (positive or negative) is held onto.
Participants were generous in their participation and serious in their enquiry and it was an enjoyable day. I felt the series of seminars had got off to a good start.