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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
SUMMER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 9 LETTERS WE WELCOME YOUR COMMENTS AT: LETTERS@THEBUDDHADHARMA.COM KIMSCAFURO s a Buddhist practitioner and practicing psychoanalyst who is not licensed to prescribe medications, with palms together I say thank you for airing a question that often confronts us (patient and therapist) in the consulting room: when are meds called for? The bias against medication’s flattening of affect (emotions), making symptoms less severe and therefore less available or urgent for engaging in treatment, is an ongoing dis- cussion in professional circles. It is of utmost importance that the issue be addressed in the practicing Buddhist community. I have heard firsthand from practitioners who had been told, in short, that “meditation and mindful- ness are the cure-all.” Instead of “take it to analysis,” it’s “take it to the cushion.” I have watched with disappointment as people very close to me, personally and pro- fessionally, suffered a sense of failure and worthlessness because they were counseled to “go back to the cushion” after having a frightening psychic experience while on silent retreat or as an answer to their distressing psychological concerns. To call the problems a result of “monkey mind” or “vexations” is naive and, as we have read in Kiera Van Gelder’s article (Spring 2012), dangerous. Royce Froehlich, M.Div., LCSW-R New York, New York K eep the young voices coming in Buddha dharma (“Let’s Talk” in the Spring 2012 issue). We need them! I’m forty-three, so I don’t count as young anymore, though boomers still treat me like a kid! I can’t tell you how frustrating it was, when I was a young Buddhist searching for a sangha where I felt like I belonged, to find sangha after sangha of middle-aged boom- ers who treated me as a know-nothing kid. It took a few years, but I finally found a Zen group that had a wide spectrum of ages. I was so thrilled whenever I would stumble across a Buddhist book by Gen X or Punk Zen Buddhists. Oh the irony of now being one of those annoying middle-aged Buddhists who “just don’t get it!” We absolutely need young voices in Buddhist leadership. We need new ideas and new perspectives. That middle-aged attitude that somehow, because we survived our twenties and thirties we know it all, is a blinder. We need to be shaken up by young Buddhist voices. It keeps us all young. Lisa Wells Stow, Ohio Barry Briggs’ letter in the Winter 2011 issue compels me to comment on his statement that “he hopes the worldwide sangha will continue to deepen its insight” into issues related to sexual indiscretions between Bud- dhist teachers and students. My path in Buddhism began nearly forty years ago, so I’ve had some time to think about this. These indiscretions are not new, and they exist in all facets of society, not just Buddhism. One thing that is clear is that we live in a world of desire and attachment. If we are lucky enough to apply mindfulness to the mix, we add moments of clarity to our actions. But we should not confuse the indiscretions that occur within the sangha as a pollutant of the dharma. These actions only reflect human beings still trapped in relative ego-centered activities. This does not diminish the power of the dharma or its transformative effect when applied. We are in this together for the long haul and missteps are bound to occur. Mostly we are taught to live with compassion for our fellow travelers and with less judgment about their behavior. Not to turn a blind eye, but the teachings are there, self-evident, and we try to learn from them; being human isn’t easy A