9.10 meditation: Meditate like a mountain: mountain is strong & firm, mountain accepts changes of weather and changes of season, mountain supports many different forms of life, mountain has many parts that are rough or broken but is still always beautiful.
9.35 small groups: review reasons for being on this course
9.45 discuss: How is a psychotherapist similar to a mountain? When you have helped somebody (client or friend) when have you been as a mountain and when not? What conditions support you in being more mountain and what less?
Lecture: Basic concepts
1. A field is where things grow. You plant something in the field and it grows. Plant small rice plant and it grows into big plant and bears crop. Therapy is about creating the conditions for growth. These conditions are both inner (psychological) and outer (physical). Thus, meditation training centres are places for inner development, but they are deliberately sited in the most beautiful places. The outer environment has an effect on inner development. Although this is so, it is also true that the more spiritually advanced a person is the wider the range of things that they consider beautiful and growth promoting. The inexperienced therapist has only a few sets of conditions to offer and so tends to coerce the client to fit the therapist’s model. The experienced therapist sees possibilities in a wide range of conditions and so does not need to pressure the client, but can work with whatever the client presents. This latter way of working is more natural and effective.
2. A field can also mean a sphere of influence, as in a magnetic field. Iron objects placed near a magnet gradually become magnets themselves. This is similar to the influence of a Buddha. A Buddha Land is a field of influence of a Buddha. If you spend time close to the Buddha, gradually you are becoming a Buddha. Buddhas create Buddha field and as those who come into the field become Buddhas the field grows and grows. Therapy is the same. Whether there are problems to solve or not, simply being in the field of influence has an effect. Buddha said, first keep good company. Therapy should at least be time in good company.
3. A rice field grows rice, a merit field grows merit. Merit basically means a happy mind. Happiness means different things in different circumstances so the therapist needs to be flexible. But the best kind of merit is happiness that is less or not at all dependent upon circumstance. This is the deepest kind of awakening. Therefore, there are many degrees of merit. Also, for happiness to be real it has to be alive and spontaneous.
4. Sometimes the sangha is referred to as a merit field. In establishing the sangha the Buddha was creating a cadre of people who would be "worthy of offerings". Offerings then become like seed planted in the field. If you help a good person who is doing good things there is a multiplier effect because you not only help yourself and the person that receives your offering, but, by enabling that person's work to proceed, you help all the people that that person helps too. We may think that the best thing is to help the person who is in most need, but he Buddhist principle suggests that sometimes the best thing is to help the person who can do most good.
Small Groups (10 minutes)
Discuss these ideas.
Work in pairs
1. Counselling exercise, 7 minutes each way, “What kind of mountain am I?” followed by discussion focussed on counselling method
Input: some instruction to counsellors on how to slow the client down and assist their exploration of image and feeling.
2. With new partner: 12 minutes each way, same exercise, followed by discussion focussed on counselling relationship.
Interview with a client who started from the mountain metaphor and went on to talk about her family life and then focussed on her second daughter who has various problems. Client said that she works as a counsellor and had chosen to learn counselling because she hoped that it might help her to solve her daughter’s problem. There were several choice points in the interview, as when the client said that in relation to her daughter she felt “pity”, “fear” and “guilt”, and when she said that she felt that she had fears for the daughter and also fears for herself, and when she mentioned interactions she had had with her husband as well as those with her daughter. The client was concerned about her own “selfishness” which she recognised. The counsellor chose to focus particularly on the fear and the bond with the daughter. The client said that her fear was that the daughter might die. The client said “I really do want to help her”, but the client had also come to the conclusion that the daughter had to go and live independently and now that the daughter is living separately the client feels some relief, although the fear continues. When the client talked about her fear, tears came into her eyes which seemed an appropriate sign of the sadness that she feels. The.counsellor focussed upon the naturalness of the client’s emotion and the unselfish nature of the real concern that she had for her daughter.
Questions & Discussion
In the discussion it became apparent that a number of the observers thought that the counsellor should have asked the client what her “real problem” was. They had a sense that there must be something behind what was being presented. This was not how the matter had appeared to the counsellor (myself). To the counsellor it seemed that here was a mother facing a real difficulty in the form of having a daughter who had problems that the mother could not solve for her. It is natural that a mother would have feelings in this situation. It did not seem necessary or appropriate to search for another “problem”. This has clearly been a major theme in the client’s life for several decades, centrally affecting even her choice of career and it is not an unreal or neurotic issue. The client might sometimes want to be free from her fear for the daughter, but the only way to really be free from it would be to stop caring which would be pathological. Clearly a number of problems have grown up around this situation - concerns about the family losing face and so on - but these are secondary. To the counsellor it seemed more important to affirm the healthy part of the client than to emphasise and explore the problematic.
More theoretically, from a Buddhist perspective, the central problem is always selfishness in some form or other. The client here acknowledges her selfishness and has thought about it. Everybody is selfish in some ways. The selfishness gives rise to problems - feelings of guilt, fear of losing face, conflicts within the family were all mentioned in this case. How is this to be overcome? There are two routes. One route is to identify each instance and deconstruct them one by one. The other is to strengthen the unselfish part so that the client can be established in naturalness and realism. From this position the client can face all of her own problems more effectively.
Small groups (10 minutes)
END OF DAY
After reading this a correspondent wrote to me as follows...
On the question whether there are ever times when it is appropriate to be directive: sometimes it is valuable to lead the process but not the content. One can say, "Can we try something... I'd like you to..." but it needs to be something open, an experiment in which the client finds what they find rather than being manipulated into a position predetermined by the therapist. It could even be something to do between sessions: "try this, then come back and tell me whether it works or not and what you find out." Then occasionally it is useful for the therapist to use their authority to support, affirm or reinforce the healthy part of the client. I don't think we should be allergic to saying what seems clear to us, but we should not think that it is the therapist's job to come up with an instruction. I respect the client's right to her/his own life. I am just their assistant.
Q: Mountain is not always clement, sometimes it is fierce? Sometimes volcano.
A: Yes, true. Therapist needs big mind to encompass volcano too. when a volcano erupts it seems terrible, but life on earth depends on there being volcanoes.
Q: What is different about ZT as compared with Western therapy?
A: The difference is not so much in the technique as in what is in the mind of the therapist. Western therapy is much concerned with ego reinforcement and does not see selfishness as a problem. Buddhism is opposite. Buddhist therapist helps client to be more natural and let ego fade. Client may want more ego strength in order to suppress a symptom, but therapist feels compassion for the whole of the client and sees the symptom as a sign of something healthy, not just a problem. Something natural is struggling to find a way to live.
Q: I had a prejudice yesterday from past experience with the person who was client and this stopped me concentrating.
A: Yes, we all have prejudices. Everybody here has prejudices about everybody else. Until we are all completely enlightened it will be so. This is our big obstacle. This led to…
Cease from harm, do only good, do good for others, purify your mind. This is all of he teaching of all of the Buddhas.
If only we could fulfil this in our lives we would all be good therapists. When we sit down opposite somebody, how do we do this when the delusions in our minds are so pervasive and subtle? Buddhists learn to be relatively more objective about heart and mind. They learn a measure of detachment that enables one to see one’s own state and process. This helps.
Q: What are we saying are the real resources of client: what sort of mountain they are? only their positive parts? everything?
A: Yes, all three. As ordinary people we think there are positive and negative parts. The greater scope of vision we have the more we can see as positive. Therefore, in the eyes of Buddha everything can be positive.
Q: problem solving or abreaction? Was there abreaction in the session yesterday.?
A: No, but the session helped to pave the way for it.
Client of yesterday, who had arrived late for the session, was asked to comment on her experience. She said it was the first time she had exposed her problem in public so she had been anxious. She had felt very supported in the session. In the feedback time many things came up as she listened to other people discussing. She is still feeling emotional and crying softly, which is appropriate.
Meditate like a great body of water, lake, ocean or sea. The water has a surface and a deep. It fluid and has many currents. It is the home to many forms of life. Things fall into the water and sink or float. Water always prefers the lowest place. Water seems soft and weak yet by gentle persistence erodes the hardest rock and biggest mountain. Water is strong. Water is a basis of life.
Discuss: How is a psychotherapist like water?
Exercise in Pairs
Counsellor & client, alternating roles, working with the metaphor of water. “When i think of myself as water…” Then discussion in the pair of how it is to use metaphor. Distinction between (1) having something to say and using the metaphor as a way of saying it (2) simply being carried away by the metaphor itself, thus…
When I think of water, yes, I am the kind of person who flows, sometimes. I can take on the local conditions the way water flows into a valley and occupies it, taking on the local form. I think i am a bit like water in that I can be subversive. Water seems humble, taking the lowest place, but it is always eroding what seems strong and dominant. I’m like that. I’m always working away at changing things, but often not in a particularly overt way. More by subtle influence. Water gets into things, permeates them, makes them wet. As a teacher, I want my ideas to penetrate like that. I’m not insistent that they always go out in just the form and shape that I have them in, but so long as people have got wetted (and whetted) by my ideas, That’s fine. They will take that water with them and it will get to new places in new forms.
When I think of myself as water I have no shape. I take whatever shape is given by my surroundings. I always seek the lowest place and there I take on the character of the place. I stay there until I am allowed to go on to somewhere else. It seems that I am passive, but actually i always know which way to go. I have an inbuilt sense of going somewhere, yet I do not know what I am going to find next or where this journey will take me. I am always on a journey, even when I am still for a long time in one place. I am just biding my time. Sometimes I encounter obstacles. in fact, always I am encountering obstacles. Sometimes I am powerful and i sweep them out of the way. Sometimes I carry them with me. Sometimes I stop before them and wait. But even when I am waiting i am still subtly wearing away the substance of what stands in my way. Although I seem very quiet and passive I am actually relentless. I know what I want and where to go. Yet while I am in one place, I make it beautiful and bring it to life. When I am there, i receive supplies. More flows into me and falls upon me from the heavens. I become swollen and full. My power increases. However, sometimes, it is otherwise. Sometimes I am evaporated. I rise up into the heavens myself and get blown away to a distant place. Encountering mountains I feel cold and fall again to earth and start my journey all over again.
A client talking about himself may start to develop a metaphor in order to express himself. He moves into mode 1 in order to make his point clear. however, once the metaphor is established in the communication between the client and the counsellor, he or they may move into mode 2 and simply flow with the image. It may be unclear when the client is in this mode whether the things he says are true of himself or not. It is similar to dreaming while one is awake. However, in the process new possibilities may be born. When the client later translates what he experienced metaphorically back into more personal terms he may find that his original perspective has changed. Metaphor is thus a vehicle for liberation.
All meaning is metaphor. We only understand something by relating it to something else. Thus two things are connected, one being mapped onto the other. When this is done the possibilities of the second thing may be added to those of the first thing. Thus metaphor permits expansion of meaning and of possibilities. When the client is in mode 2 there will be an influence from the client’s dream process. The client’s psychological health is in inverse proportion to the size of the gap between his dream and his real life.
The therapist can facilitate the client moving from mode 1 to mode 2 by using mode 2 language in her responses. To do this the therapist needs to herself be at ease in being in mode 2. If therapist is too strongly anchored in a left brain approach she will not be able to do so with any fluency.
The dream process hat goes on in the background is itself influenced from the even more unconscious karmic continuum with the the deep meaning of the person’s life, carrying over from one life to another.
Discussion to digest these concepts.
1. In pairs, without words, free movement or dance using the idea of being water.
Feedback discussion: comparing feelings, self-consciousness, sense of freedom in movement
2. Alone, entering the trance of being water and moving without words
Feedback discussion with partner
3. One person moving in their trance and the other observing and trying to enter “empathy with the body”
4. As (3) reversed roles.
Pairs join second pair to make foursome. Share & discuss experience of the movement exercise.
Look at the issue of self-consciousness and trance. Some people lose self-consciousness when they have sex, some when they listen to music that they like, some when dancing, some when entering a role, as in a play. Others do not.
I am water, I am mountain
All beneath a purple heaven
Sun is setting, I am rising,
Far away a bell is ringing.
It is calling, I am going,
Flowing to the ocean calling.
Rising to the clouds and flying.
Do not ask me how to travel.
Join the dance and follow singing.
I am mountain, fire and thunder.
I am light upon the water.
I don’t want you to forget the mountain and the lake, you can keep them in the background, but this morning I invite you to meditate like a poppy. The poppy turns to the sunshine. It stands up straight, but it bends with the wind. The poppy has a delicate bloom. The poppy is ephemeral. It appears suddenly, makes an impression and then disappears. Although small it is of striking appearance. It makes a tiny seed and drops it into the ground where it rests unnoticed, sometimes for many years, and then, when the conditions are right, it sends up new shoots. The poppy loves the sunshine.
Discuss how therapy is like the poppy flower.
Short talk on counselling and character development using the analogy of a garden. The gardener must co-operate with nature. Every plant has some use. You cannot make the plants grow, they do so by their own power, but by affecting the conditions you can cultivate a harmonious balance between the various plants.
10 minutes each way talking about self using the imagery of a garden.
Case discussion. One member presenting a case in the mode of a life to be understood, rather than a problem to be solved, looking at the positions of significant others as well as that of the client.
In relation to this case, as a Buddhist therapist, what do you think is your responsibility and what do you think is not your responsibility?
I presented a case history of a family situation that has no obvious path to resolution. As it stands there is a stalemate which could result in the husband and wife living in misery indefinitely, yet if you look at it from the point of view of each party it is easy to understand why they do not change the situation. This led to lengthy discussion.
The point of presenting a case of this kind is mainly to give the students the chance to think in terms of the psychodynamics of family life, and to see how patterns tend to repeat down the generations, or give rise to their direct opposite in the next generation which can be equally problematic.
Lecture & Discussion
Based on Yesterday’s Case presentation. Aim of Buddhist therapist is to help client emerge wiser and more compassionate. However, there are many difficulties in finding the best way to achieve this. One approach is to reflect and clarify the situation in the hope that the client learn the lessons by direct experience. To do this in a truly neutral way requires great skill. When one observes most therapists who think they are using such a method you can see that really they are subtly manipulating the client, trying to get the client to think what the therapist thinks. So there are important skills to learn and refine in this respect. On the other hand, another method is to be more direct with the client, more blunt. the client might ask “What should I do about this impossible situation?” and the therapist might say, “Well, if it is as impossible as you have described, then you will have to put up with it.” This is not what the client wants or expects from the therapist. Sometimes such a comment has a certain shock value. In any case, it is important that responsibility for the client’s life not be taken away from the client. When one looks at the encounters of the Buddha that are most like therapy situations, rather than reassuring or lessening the client’s problem he tends, rather, to tell them that it is even worse than they had imagined. The Buddha has a vision of samsara, of beings enmeshing themselves in suffering. He responses are, therefore, grounded in a much bigger picture of universal human suffering. Life is like that. This, however, is not fatalistic. Buddha has a sense that things evolve according to the intentional actions of people, but he does not shrink from the natural realities. If a person is eaten up with bitterness, then that person is going to suffer. That is inevitable. However, perhaps there is something to learn from the suffering.
Just because a person has come into therapy one cannot automatically assume that they want to “solve their problem”. Involving the therapist may provide a new element in the situation that has little if anything to do with “solution”. For instance, if the husband has another woman, the wife might come to a male therapist in order to produce balance, symmetry and therefore stability in the situation. She may prefer to have a therapist rather than a lover because she does not want to be blameworthy, but her being in therapy may serve more to stabilise the situation than change it.
Inevitably there is much that the therapist does not know. He does not know what the right outcome for the client is in terms of the physical situation, but he hopes for the emergence of greater wisdom and compassion. He deeply respects the client and also respects the deeper wisdom of the situation. Each person is on a spiritual journey and they are in the position that they are in for some reason and in order to learn something. By being compassionate and steady the therapist enables the client to face the reality. That might or might not mean changing it.
Meditate like a dove. Dove is the bird of peace. Dove is sociable, home-loving. Dove will fly a long way to find its true home. Dove has a very simple language, seems to be saying the same thing over and over, like a mantra. Doves all together are happy saying their mantra to one another. Dove is the bird of love and peace.
Discuss what kind of bird you are.
Seagull, humming bird, ostrich, kiwi, finch, parrot, eagle, owl, sparrow, thrush, dove, woodpecker, stork, heron, egret, penguin, peacock, cardinal, robin, wren, cuckoo, pheasant, curlew, …
Working in threes, client, counsellor & observer.
You could start from ¿what sort of bird am I? or you could start from the issue of jealousy. We have all been jealous at one time or another.
Jealousy: From a rational point of view, jealousy is often pointless and counter-productive, driving away the person that we think we want to have close to us. Yet is it a powerful emotion. the flavour of jealousy is given in the following quotation: “And yes, I’ll admit, I am jealous. I’m jealous of every minute you spend with him, of every concerned expression you send his way, of every tear shed, of every glance, every touch, and every thought. I want to rip him to pieces and purge him from your mind and from your heart. But I can’t.” ― Colleen Houck.
Jealousy is not exactly the same as envy, but it feels rather similar. From a Buddhist perspective, we can say that envy and jealousy are the opposites of mudita. When we consider the four immeasurables and their opposites:
- maitri = love; its opposite is hate
- karuna = compassion; its opposite is callousness
- mudita is sympathetic joy; its opposite is envy and jealousy
- upeksha is equanimity; its opposite is malicious glee
Maitri is the wish that whatever is good for the other arrive. To wish for what is bad for them is hate. Karuna is to wish that the other be relieved of what is bad for them; callousness is not to care if they suffer. Mudita is to feel happiness when another person gets what is good for them or is freed from what is bad for them; jealousy and envy are to feel pain when this happens. Upeksha is to remain calm and steadfast even when bad things happen for the loved person; malicious glee is a feeling of pleasure in seeing others fail or suffer.
It is this clear that, from the Buddhist perspective, envy and jealousy are not virtuous. However, when we think of romantic situations we have not difficulty in understanding why a person feels jealous when their partner goes away with somebody else. Jealousy is powerful and can come upon a person suddenly and unexpectedly. It can be persistent and destructive. And it is often useless telling a person that they should not be feeling this, or even to tell oneself that one shopuld not feel this. If you feel it, you feel it. It cannot be switched off at will.
Continue working in threes with a new client and new counsellor. 30 minute session, then feedback.
Input & Discussion
More reflection on the Four Immeasurables and their opposites. Recognising the opposites when they arise in oneself. If one were just to manifest the Four one would be a good therapist but this statement needs to be qualified in two ways. Firstly, it is not so easy, because one is not omniscient - one does not necessarily know what is in the best interest of the client. Certainly it is not a simple as wanting what the client wants for himself because people often want things that will not actually benefit them. Secondly, the other passions do in fact arise and they are a source of important information. It is not just a matter of setting them aside because if you do so you lose a vital source of information.
We touched on the attitude of the therapist toward the client. The Buddhist therapist needs to have both an objectivity about the situation of the client and a sense of refuge, a faith that in the eyes of the Buddha this person is a precious being. she needs a sense that the Buddha is present in everything that happens, whatever it seems like to first appearances. The Buddha is the one who teaches and everything that happens teaches us. Reality teaches us and the more clearly we see it the easier it is to learn.
It is as if the body and mind of the therapist are a measuring instrument. When the therapist takes his body and mind close to the client, physically and psychologically, this instrument responds, just as when you take a thermometer close it responds and this gives a measurement. However, a thermometer only measures one thing whereas the body and mind of the therapist are measuring a hundred things all at the same time. The Buddhist learns a certain skill in having objectivity about subjective states. In the case of the therapist these subjective states are the “readings” that she takes that tell her vitally important information about the inner dynamic of the client. The phenomena of “transference” and “counter-transference” are examples of this principle.
Groups of five. Counselling with counsellor, client and three observers.
Q: Zen question. This is the last day of he course. What is the difference between end and beginning.
A: Quite. End o course must be the start of something or it was not a course.
Q: When should therapy end?
A: We can think of three models of therapy. Originally psychotherapy was the psychological treatment of physical symptoms, as in hysteria. That sort of therapy is complete when the symptom disappears. Then, by extension, therapy came to be a way of helping to solve social and psychological problems. This sort of therapy ends when the problem has ameliorated to such a degree that the therapist and client agree that they have done enough. However there is a third way o see therapy, which is as accompaniment upon the spiritual journey. Seen this way there does not need, necessarily, to be a presenting problem, and it is more an education than a cure. As therapy goes on the person learns more and more. Seen this way, the therapy is akin to spiritual practice. Such therapy does not have natural end, but it does not need always to be intensive. Sometimes there might be long gaps. I encourage you to think of therapy this way. Even if the client is thinking in terms of model 1 or model 2, it is best for the therapist to think in terms of model 3. Even in model 1 & 2 problems are not best tackled by a direct approach. If a problem or symptom is being generated it is a marker indicating that something is going on in the inner life.
Q: Can you say something about the environment for therapy.
A: Firstly, sometimes the best environment is nature. Buddha spent most of his time out of doors. It is healthy to go out into nature. When I worked with schizophrenic clients in hospital, taking them for a walk might sometimes be better than seeing them in an office. Going to a place of beauty is good for all of us.
Secondly, the consulting place should be private. Confidentiality is important Creating a merit field is a matter of applying the most basic Buddhist teachings. Do only good. Cease from harm. One meaning of the idea of merit field is the sangha. Therapists should be a kind of sangha. Too often therapists are rivals. That is no good. Therapists are a merit field, there to help people to grow spiritually. The Buddhist sangha, too should be a community of therapists helping people. If the sangha are not helping people then they are just parasitic. The sangha, whether of bhikkhus or of therapists, should be “worthy of offerings”. What offerings do therapists receive. They may receive payment for their work, but the most important offering they receive is the confidence that people place in them. The client shares things with the therapist that he cannot share with other people. He entrusts them. So one of the first essentials of therapy is a kind of secrecy. I do not tell anybody about my clients. i do not pass on their information. i might use a case for teaching purposes, but only in circumstances where I know that the person cannot be identified and I change some details. Otherwise i say nothing to anybody. i do not even say that this or hat person is my client. It is nobody else’s business that they are in therapy. It is for the client himself to tell people if he wants to. If we cannot be trusted to keep the information that people give us private then we are not worthy to receive these offerings and we do not know how to create safety and so make a merit field.
Thirdly, I prefer that the consulting space reflect the personality of the therapist and not just be an impersonal blank screen. The client needs to know that they are meeting a real person. Then within that space it can be useful to have things that can be used for expressive purposes - drawing materials, a white board or flip chart, a bowl of stones, toys, props. Not every client is going to use these but from time to time they prove very useful.
On being a human being - the most difficult subject. Human being is the most complicated animal. The human being has long memory which may result in love and loyalty or may poison a life. HB has great capacity of love and kindness, but also for cruelty. The human being is tricky, deceptive. What you see on the surface is not necessarily the same as what is underneath. Each human being has the same basic set of instincts, but lives a unique life according to conditions and circumstance. Each person is proud of some things and ashamed of some things. The human being rarely lives more than a hundred years: we do not live as long as trees. From time to time we suffer illness and injury. If we live long enough we experience old age, when the body does not work so well. If we live long, we see out friends die. Each of these events stirs great passion and affects the heart. In the end, we too will die. When that time comes we look back upon our life. We hope that at that time we will not have too many regrets. We hope that we will have used well the opportunity of this precious human life.
Discussion of thoughts and feelings brought up by the meditation.
Then short review of this conversation: how did it come to unfold the way that it did?
A student presented a case of a young woman. At first interview the client, female, was 17, diagnosed schizophrenic, tending to drop out of school. Examination of the family situation showed some marital conflict between very different parents. The father had been a lonely man through his young life. the mother was highly social. The mother was overly close to the client. There was a second daughter, who was at odds with the client and closer to her father than to the mother. The client’s main symptom was a voice that she heard urging her to kill herself and she had made several suicide attempts.
The case continued intermittently over two years and made good progress, involving sessions with the client, sessions with the parents for marital counselling and sessions with the father individually. During this time there was also an eight month hospitalisation of the client. As a result of the counselling, the marital relation improved, the client was reintegrated into school and the suicidal impulse reduced. The therapist still feels involved in the life of the family and now wonders if she will ever be able to let the case go completely.
This case illustrates a number of points:
- schizophrenia is not just an illness in an individual.
- the condition of a person is dependent on conditions. In this particular case, if there had only been marital therapy it is possible that the client would have improved without ever being seen for therapy herself.
- problems pass down through the generations. These problems are probably traceable at least to the grandparents.
- giving the client consistent support, even without much interpretation or more active intervention can give the client the courage to go on with life.
Questions worth considering when working with a case of this kind
- does the voice have an identity? does it say anything else? does the voice have anything to say to the therapist?
- from the perspective of the client, could her death be seen to “solve” a problem for the family (eg. if the family constellation is that it is as if mother is married to the client rather than to her husband and if the second sister is suffering in this situation, the elimination of the client could recreate a simple happy family for the sister)
- Is the client replicating a problem of one of the parents? eg. In this case, the father grew up isolated and schizophrenia is a condition of psychological isolation.
- Is the client trying to break out of an impossible situation, death being the only practical option? eg. Client is smothered by mother who is not going to let her go or let her grow up. How is she to escape from this?
One of the names of the bodhisattva of compassion is Quan Shih Yin which means one who hears the cries that come down through the generations. Cases of this kind give one a sense of how suffering is perpetuated from generation to generation and equally how resolving a matter may save, not just the client, but future generations too.
Counselling practice in groups of five, client, counsellor and three observers.
Student 1: talked about physical symptoms, especially headache related to emotional problems. This is a young person coping with romantic entanglements, living far from home, and studying for exams concurrently.
Student 2: talked about an experience of some years previously of hearing a threatening voice. The student’s memory had been triggered by the case presentation earlier in the afternoon. This case was interesting in that we spent some time exploring how much control the client had over the voice and its associated physical symptoms (primarily pain in the lower abdomen). When the client remained frightened of the “Mara” he experienced pain but when he faced it it disappeared.
Student 3: Talked about ambivalent feelings about her work situation. She feels trapped in a work situation that she can cope with but does not relish. We looked at the issue of what she does have a choice about and what she does not. When it became apparent that she does not believe that she has the choice to leave this situation that she dislikes she shed some abreactive tears. When a person is trapped in a disagreeable situation they can, some of the time, put feelings aside in order to deal with the reality situation and get on with the job, but if they suppress the feelings all of the time they will surely eventually become ill.
In threes, discussing the work seen.
Song of an Itinerant Healer
People in general know all the answers,
so I am the foolish one .
People in general have such good theories,
only I revel in wondering and prefer being puzzled.
While they are poised on the brink of illumination,
I am wandering along low paths
collecting trinkets I find in the mud.
Behind me trudges an ancient ox
who seems as ignorant as myself.
Here and there we pick up fellow travellers.
As I have nothing particularly tasty to offer
I show them the way to the inn
and wish them good cheer.
While they are intent on changing many things
I prefer to accept them just as they are
even though they find me a bit strange.
They are all clad in many bright virtues,
but my sack is empty and full of holes.
With these treasures they are all going to achieve something.
I enjoy listening to their amazing stories.
In any case, I have little to say,
only things they already know well.
I think I must belong
to a time before creation
when intelligence was yet to be invented.
I have no interest in finding faults,
even less in correcting them,
thus there is nothing to be abandoned
and somehow everything works out as it should.
Although I walk in the half light
my heart is protected by darkness.
Saying a prayer in the morning
my mood is as the going down of sunset.
Since I am a foreigner in every land
I try not to over-reach myself.
Having few desires, I survive;
having many, I understand a few things.
With such a small harvest,
I know to be careful and watch my step,
endeavouring not to tread on the wayside flowers.
The more dull I become,
the more their little faces shine.