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Buddhadharma : Summer 2017
66 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly summer 2 0 1 7 opening and awakening.” Back then, the idea that meditation cannot resolve all psychological suffer- ing was widely discounted in meditation circles. But with more research and anecdotal evidence, it has gained wider and wider acceptance. By 2009, in a Buddhadharma article titled “Medicate or Medi- tate?” Roger Walsh, Robin Bitner, Bruce Victor, and Lorena Hillman wrote, “It seems clear that the question of whether meditation and psychotherapy can enhance one another has been decided: many people benefit from combining them, and this has been observed by clinicians and demonstrated by research. When old traumas, pains, and patterns recycle endlessly, or make spiritual practice seem overwhelming and hopeless, the best answer may not be simply the classic one of more practice. Instead, psychotherapy may be called for.” I practice contemporary psychoanalysis, which means that when I work with a client, we aim to deeply transform faulty emotional patterning that was formed in childhood. As this is done, I also reflect and encourage the client’s authentic self-expression. For example, someone may have learned early on that it is dangerous to get mad, as it could jeopardize a parent’s love. This may leave him in situations where he is taken advantage of because he does not have access to his legitimate anger. In therapy, we would not only discover the cause of the difficulty with anger but also encourage the practicing of it, especially at times when the cli- ent might be angry with me. By my staying steady and accepting his feeling, the client gains a living experience of being able to be angry with someone who does not retaliate or withdraw, who accepts his concerns. These types of exchanges assist the client in developing a healthy, authentic, and vital sense of self. This aspect of psychological development was not necessary for the Buddha, and the healing of these types of wounds was not included in the Bud- dha’s prescription to end suffering. As the popular story of the Buddha tells us, Sid- dhartha’s father shielded him from the sufferings of the world by keeping him behind the palace walls. This worked until he was twenty-nine and became curious about what was going on outside. Four times he embarked on a journey with his charioteer. In three of these journeys, he encountered some- one—a very old person, a very sick person, and a corpse—who lifted the veil from his eyes, and he realized the inescapable fact of existential suffering. On his fourth outing, Siddhartha encountered an ascetic, one who had renounced the material world in order to live the holy life and be freed from suf- fering. This last encounter pointed the Buddha-to- be in the direction he would take to achieve final liberation. Unlike many of us, Siddhartha was raised with absolute care, safety, love, respect, nurturance, and admiration. Although his mother died shortly after he was born, which perhaps made him more sensi- tive to existential suffering when he was exposed to it as an adult, he had developed what is called a secure attachment with his aunt, meaning he had safely bonded to his caregiver. According to devel- opmental psychology, this attachment is necessary in order for a child to grow into an adult with a healthy and stable sense of self. DeBRA fliCs is a psychotherapist in private practice in new York City. she teaches at Downtown new York Meditation Community and has served on the Teachers Council at new York insight Meditation Center. Unlike many of us, Siddhartha was raised with absolute care, safety, love, respect, nurturance, and admiration. He emerged from his childhood psychologically whole. richardmitchell